The Truth About Rest

The Truth About Rest

We had a long week. One of those weeks where the calendar was too full and at the beginning of the week, you just knew that by the end you were going to be dragging. I woke up this morning wondering how much of me was left for the tasks ahead. Today required extra effort for a Sunday–our team that is going to Kenya this summer was hosting a fundraising lunch and silent auction after church.

Rest would be delayed.

My husband preached this morning on Jesus’ prayer life, something he and I both struggle with–finding a rhythm to life that involves prayer. “What do you do when life gets crazy?” he asked. “Pray” is not the first thing that comes to mind.

His passage was from Luke 6, when Jesus chooses his disciples and goes to a mountain to pray all night before he does. I’ve heard this story. It seems so simple. And yet a word popped off the page at me, like I’d never seen it there before.

The passage begins: “One of those days…”

The preceding stories have Jesus healing and being confronted and the Pharisees searching for a way to kill him.

Jesus knows what it’s like to have “one of those days.”

Now, Luke might have just meant to say that it was one day among many and this is what Jesus did. But I love how Scripture speaks to me where I am, in the midst of one of those weeks where I am drained and worn out and Jesus shows me by His actions that it is okay to withdraw and to pray, to be strengthened for the days to come.

This message is a drumbeat for me right now. One I can’t not hear. Yesterday I heard a speaker talk about strengthening the links in your chain–the connection between you and God–so that you’re prepared for whatever suffering is yet to come. She referenced Joseph and how his connection with God equipped him to thrive and endure the suffering. And she talked of her own suffering, how as missionaries she and her husband served a tribal people and when her husband was murdered in the line of duty, her own connection with God was tested.

I knew going in to this week that it would not be up to me to get me through. And so I asked people to pray. Still, I found myself overwhelmed at times. Cranky. Critical.

One afternoon, when I could have kept working on what needed to be done, I forced myself to lie down and read for pleasure. To cease the work I’d been hammering away at all morning and through lunch. To take a break and rest.

I am like my children when I try to convince myself to do this. When we tell them it’s time for some quiet separation time, to head to separate rooms for some rest and space, they resist. Our son wails every excuse he can think of and cries and sometimes throws himself on the ground. Our daughter, on occasion, will do the same. If we are firm and patient enough, they will settle in to this restful time. We are all of us better for it.

So when I tell myself that it is time to rest, the inner child in me balls my fists and wails and thinks of a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t be resting. But if I am firm and patient with myself, I settle in to this restful time. And even if I don’t actually fall asleep, or if I only sleep 10 minutes, I find I am refreshed.

The truth about rest is that I’m afraid to stop doing. Afraid that I’ll lose momentum on a project or be looked upon as lazy or I’ll miss out on something going on in the world. Rest is a four-letter word in our over-productive society, and I don’t want to be one who offends.

But rest is the way of Jesus, a man-who-is-God, who had unlimited power and strength at his disposal but still took time to rest. Creator God rested after his work of making the world.

He gives us rest as a gift. And I often find myself in line to exchange it for something else.

I took a 15-minute nap today after our duties with the fundraiser were over. The dishes are piled high in my kitchen. The laundry has sat unfolded for a week and there is more to wash.

But today, by the grace of God, I chose rest.

And tomorrow will be better for it.

How hard or easy is it for you to choose rest?

What can you do this week to give yourself a break?

Lisa Bartelt About Lisa Bartelt

Lisa has been writing stories for more than a decade, first for newspapers and now as a freelancer, blogger and budding novelist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Read more at her blog, Beauty on the Backroads.


  1. This one really speaks to me, Lisa. Wow. I’m right with you, and have such a hard time resting, but prayer really helps me with this, too. I like the image you mentioned of the chain, that’s a great way to put it.

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