I think there may be seasons when God is just calling us to find rest and to allow him to restore our bodies, minds, and spirits. These can be quite enjoyable times, but they can also be times when God points out ways we need to be making subtle course corrections in life to readjust our focus. Either way, we need them desperately. Without times of renewal, we wind down and we just get plain burned out. It is intentional rest that we need, not forced or reluctant times of rest. When we recognize our need for these specific seasons of rest, we won't be as tempted to resist them as we might want to be!
He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that he is good. (Psalm 23:3 ERV)
This morning, as we consider the importance of rest, will you allow me to use an acrostic to help us remember the purpose of rest? The word I want to focus on is quite simple: LINGER.
Lean into his presence. There is something about leaning which we seldom recognize - the thing we are leaning against is stable and is actually lending its stability to provide for our instability. As I recovered from my two knee surgeries recently, I had to use a front-wheeled walker, crutches, and even a cane, each for a period of time. Without the stabilizing force of these walking aids, my gait was unstable and unreliable. I had to lean upon them to make up for the instability in my own gait. When we lean upon anything or anyone, we are doing so to find support we are lacking. Often this is the hardest part of taking time for restoration in our lives - we don't want to admit we need that support we seem to be lacking. Most people who have come through some of the toughest experiences in life will tell you it was the support they received as they were going through it which made the journey bearable. There is a sense of "reliance" which is inferred by leaning into something. We are pretty certain what we allow our weight to rest about will bear up under the burden of our weight. In essence, we are shifting our weight to the object upon which we are leaning into. When the place we rest our burdens begins to be upon him, we find the weight of those burdens gradually shift from our shoulders to his.
Notice God with intentional purpose. Part of learning to find rest is this ability to actually intentionally notice God's movement within our lives. If you have ever read through the Book of Solomon, you will be intrigued by the many times the bride seems to notice her husband is gone from her presence. It may have been that she was so consumed in what she was doing she didn't notice he was moving to a new place, or that she drifted into some slumber, causing her to miss his movement. We are kind of like that in our lives on occasion - just too consumed by details which are just not all that important, or kind of lazy in our pursuit. We don't take notice of God's movement in our lives until we are kind of "missing him". There must be intentional purpose in our seasons of rest. If we only relied upon us being "pulled into" rest, we will find we are missing God more and more out of our lives. God moves and we need to be intent on noticing his movement!
Enter rest. When we lean into God's strength and notice him with intentional purpose, we begin to enter into rest. As long as we stand on the outside of any structure, we are AT the structure, but we aren't IN the structure. I can be standing outside your doorway today, but until I actually step past the threshold of your entryway, I don't actually enter into your home. In order to enter, I must take some action to move forward into the place prepared for me. God welcomes into his presence and thereby provides a place prepared for us to find rest. We take the steps to enter into that rest, though. It is by accident that we find rest - it is intentional and with some action on our part. Leaning is intentional. Noticing is intentional. Entering is intentional. Yes, rest is intentional! If we want to find his restorative rest, we must be willing to do all three! Just sayin!