Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
(Jesus in Mark 6:31)
It was well past 9:00 p.m. when I finally finished eating dinner. I was exhausted from a challenging week. Without thinking, I opened the kitchen cupboard to put away my spaghetti leftovers.
What am I doing?
I shook my head and put the perishable food in the refrigerator where it belonged.
The past few months had been a whirlwind of activity—working copious overtime hours, writing another book, leading a weekly Bible study and other obligations—and tension was taking its toll. Most nights I was up late trying to catch up with life and wondering why the days were so long and the nights so short.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has too much to do and never enough time. Indeed, we are a generation of busy people; we’re working hard but hardly living.
To be sure, there is a time to work. But there is also a time to cease from our labor. Yet, some people struggle to stop the insane pace of their lives and feel guilty when they rest or the sense the impending disapproval of others if things aren’t perfect.
Is there a better way to find a better life?
It starts with acknowledging the false beliefs that keep us stuck on a hamster wheel of perpetual motion. Here’s what I’ve found. By addressing the lies we believe and replacing them with God’s truth and physical rest, things can begin to change.
Here are five lies we tell ourselves, or others impose upon us, about getting the rest we need:
1) LIE: I can do everything, and do it all on my own. This is the person who believes she has to make it all happen. She has to do everything for everyone and do it all by herself. Some may call her a martyr; others may call her a control freak. She believes her way is the “right” way or she feels she must save the world.
2) LIE: I feel guilty when I rest. I used to think rest was a luxury for a privileged few. It was a time in my life when I was short on funds and working three jobs just to stay afloat. It didn’t seem fair. Then, I came across the book, When I Relax I Feel Guilty by Tim Hansel and learned that rest was God’s idea! (Genesis 2:1-3)
3) LIE: I don’t deserve to rest. Rest is a gift. You don’t earn it. To rest is to trust God. You were never meant to do life all on your own, or carry the weight of the world like boulders in a backpack. When you release your worries to God, you’re saying that you trust Him.
4) LIE: Rest is a waste of time. In reality, taking time to renew your weary self is time well spent. It’s an investment that will pay off physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally because you will be a better you—for others and for yourself. Stopping periodically to get refreshed ultimately helps you get the job done more effectively.
5) LIE: If I rest, I won’t get it all done. That goes back to the fundamental question of whose agenda you are following. A major heart shift happens when we begin to realize that life is about God’s plan, His story. His agenda. We live for God, not for ourselves. He will enable us to get done what He wants accomplished each day when we are surrendered and willing.
In the demanding pace of life we may lose perspective, forget things or mess up our priorities. We lose peace of mind, and connection with God and others. Our health and relationships suffer. We feel cluttered, scattered, or alone.
In our efforts to be efficient, we may not always be effective. Often, we lose heart.
And we need to find it again.
In a culture that praises busyness and devalues silence and reflection, we need to remember that rest brings margin to life. It creates essential spaces that allow us to replenish and restore beauty and balance. Without rest, life is an endless cycle of work, chores, and errands. And that’s not what God intended. Rest, connection, fun, and play are essential parts of life, too.
Your days may be full, but your heart doesn’t have to be empty. Think about how you can get refueled in your life. Pray about it. Ask God to help you find margin in your life. Ask others for help. Learn to delegate.
As you connect with God and allow Him to work through you, you’ll begin to release worry, fear and stress and begin to enjoy the freedom and peace that are yours through God’s power at work in you.
Because when we’re well-rested, we are better equipped to serve God and others, and truly enjoy life.