just told my friend that I felt God leading me into a season of rest. With so many things flying at me, my body is tired and needs to slow down. I even told her I wasn’t going to fight God on it, that I would comply willingly and start letting things go. Ironically, that night I was up coughing most of the night and started running a fever. Now here I am, three days later, still laid up in my pajamas, sore throat, low energy, and fever, Forced to rest.
Funny how rest is happening even though I didn’t choose it. All those writing projects I couldn’t find time for are happening. The naps I didn’t have time for but desperately needed are happening, whether I planned them or not. Sometimes we have no choice but to rest.
According to Merriam-Webster, rest means – freedom from activity or labor; a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities. Another definition says, peace of mind. But there were a few other definitions that caught my attention. A rhythmic silence in music and something used for support.
A Rhythmic Silence
Music was my life as a teenager. I joined the choir at twelve and began playing the French horn the same year. Middle and high school band, church orchestra, and summer travels with our denomination’s youth orchestra were some of the best times of my life.
Learning a piece of music, practicing, and then presenting the finished product to an audience was such an amazing feeling. Well-written pieces, executed with all the proper pianos and fortes, evoked such deep emotions. Often tears accompanied those practiced pieces as we delivered them just as the composer intended.
The ones that impacted me most were songs with rests. Composers would often include a rest just before a huge crescendo or even directly after a fortissimo blast. The rest would often reset the song or set the stage for a different scene of the composition altogether.
This type of rest created a rhythmic silence. Rest on purpose. But also, a rest that made the whole song flow together, loud or soft, heavy or sweet. Without the rest, the song missed something grand; lost the magnificent luster.
In life, we also need this musical type of rest. Regular, built in, rhythmic rest. Rest that we schedule in, hold sacred, and add on purpose. It’s the kind of rest that makes life flow evenly, no matter what comes our way. Without this well-timed thoughtful rest, our life will be missing something grand and we will lose our focus.
This type of rest recenters, refreshes, and rejuvenates our soul. When doubt and fear slip in, rest brings back joy and hope. Without planned rest, the song of our life will be plain and boring, lacking the perfect timing and blessing of the Lord because we lose sight of him in our seasons of haste.
Thinking of rest as a support is also an encouraging concept. In the context of this definition, rest is a noun and is used as in a car’s arm rest, head rest, or a physical support of some kind. But figuratively, rest can also be support.
Periods of downtime create healthy bodies and minds. Creative juices often flow more readily when we take time to turn off the busy that often consumes our thoughts. And those restful supports support us and hold us up.
Much like a crutch steadies the body after an accident or a cane supports some of the body’s weight, rest carries us when we list one way or another. Rest recenters us and holds us. Maybe even resembling a walker with a seat and wheels, rest gives us the extra strength to lean on and then when we get too tired to go, we sit down and regroup as we rest.
The final meaning of the word rest was what’s left. The rest of the children or the rest of the day would be examples. But it made me look at the rest of my life. If I don’t rest regularly, I will burn out. I will be mentally fried and emotionally incapable of participating in a healthy, processed manner. The rest of my life—all the roles, responsibilities, pieces, and parts—demands regular, planned rest.
Even God taught us through the creation story to work six days and rest on the seventh. Sabbath rest is a concept taught through the scriptures, even to the point of calling a violation of rest on the Sabbath a sin. God teaches us to rest.
And yet, so often, like me, God forces us to rest. We bring him what’s left and there’s not much to give. We are depleted, exhausted, spent, and done. Why does it take sickness or other hard situations for us to finally stop and rest?
The Fear of Rest
There is often great fear attached to being still. So many of us stay busy because we don’t want to be left alone with our thoughts. Either we don’t want to face them or we don’t know how to control them. When we rest, we have no choice but to sit in the quiet, look at ourselves, and ultimately hear from the Lord.
But, what if we secretly don’t want to hear what he has to say? What if he is leading us to hard changes and the busier we stay the less we can hear that still, small voice? Resting would mean being still and quiet—and heaven forbid – attentive. Then we’d have to listen. Be responsible for the message. And implement the change.
The longer we avoid the moments of rest and quiet, the more blessings we will miss. Something I realized many years ago is God will accomplish his plans with or without me. If I’m “too busy” or digging my heels in, refusing to be still and rest, I’m also missing out on what he is trying to speak to my heart. I’m not hearing his voice or listening for his direction. When I’m not resting, I’m missing out on what he wants to show me in those quiet moments. And ultimately I’m missing out on the greater blessing of being used by him.
As I am under forced rest today, I’m reminded of how refreshing it is to simply be. Alone. On the couch. Quiet and in his presence. To just be.
I’m grateful he was gracious enough to bring rest to me, but I realize how depleted I truly am. I might even take an extra day of rest tomorrow, just because I need it.
Where do you find yourself in relation to rest?
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
© Christy Bass Adams, March 2023, All images from Canva
Additional links on rest:
Seven Minutes of Stillness by Janet Beagle
How to Rest in God by Andy Lee
I love the rhythmic silence reference, Christy. Thank you.
That definition resonated with me, deeply. Glad it met you where you are as well.
oh how I’ve missed reading your articles. I needed this. Really, needed this. Allowing worry and fear to rob of that much needed rest.
Thank you, my friend❤️
I’m glad God placed this one in your path. Recenter. Refocus. Rest, sister.
A much needed message for me personally and the world…
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