A Time to Rest

by John Richardson

A story from African colonial history relates what happened to a traveler making a trek deep into the African wilderness. Men from a nearby tribe had been engaged to carry the heavy load of supplies. The first day they marched rapidly and traveled very far. The traveler had high hopes for the progress of the journey given the pace of their initial day. But the second morning these wilderness tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason, they just sat and rested. Upon an inquiry into the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up.

This story is such a fitting picture of life for most of us. It seems we are always going and if we do make progress that simply means we push harder the next day. Information overload and the non-stop pace of life can cause us to “lose track of our souls.”  By that, I mean the inner life, that place where we exist and rest in God, quite apart from actions and achievements. Even our work in outreach and evangelism can morph into a drive to achieve and accomplish at the expense of the very peace of Christ that we want others to know.

So what can we do?  We need to trust and depend upon the Lord enough to slow down and rest. That could look differently for each of us. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn off all electronics and media for an evening or a day. Reconnect with silence.
  • Call a friend whom you have not talked to for years just to catch up.
  • Spend an extended period of time reading the Bible and praying, not to learn anything, but simply to be in the Lord’s presence and hear his voice.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Sleep in.
  • Talk to a Christian friend about slowing down and resting.
  • Make a list of all that you have to be thankful for.
  • Reflect on God’s faithfulness to you.
  • Take a long walk.

You might have other situations or practices that pull you out of the fast lane and into a rest stop where you can reconnect with the Lord.  Please make this a priority this week and regularly in the future.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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)

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