At each checkpoint you grab a water, down it and then go for a Gatorade. Half of it makes it in your mouth; the other is now part of your uniform. Now, back at it…one foot in front of the other. Your feet are heavier with each step.
You walk-jog it for a while, and then you’ve made it to the next checkpoint. This time, you grab a few orange slices and slug down another water…then you’re off again.
Thoughts creep in with each heavier-than-ever step. “Will this race ever end?”
This race is a long one. We’ve got to keep going, but we can’t forget to rest and refuel at each checkpoint.
What is rest anyway? And who is really good at it? I’ve seen people at rest. Godly people—those who follow Jesus know how, when, and where to rest. And they do it well. They have mastered the art of saying “no” to some things and have given their best “yes” to others. In the meantime, they rest.
I was 43 years old when I finally learned how to rest. I felt guilty, but I took a personal retreat at Sandy Cove Ministries outside Baltimore, Maryland. Completely exhausted, I booked a three-night getaway. I thought, “I can’t possibly schedule or make room for one more thing,” but I did. I felt God calling me to come rest, relax, and refresh myself. So, begrudgingly, I made room for it. Yep, I made room for God. (How thoughtful of me.)
Anyway, living in three homes in less than a year had taken a toll on me physically and mentally. Even though I was still making time for God—praying, serving, and being in the Word, I wasn’t resting—really resting.
God pulled me aside, and as soon as I got in the car to make the four-hour drive to my private retreat, the floodgates opened up. I cried the whole way there. I cried at check-in. I cried at dinner. I cried for two days straight. I remember thinking, there just isn’t enough tissues. From trying to keep life together and packing and unpacking, and packing and unpacking again, and saying goodbye and hello too many times to count, I forgot to rest.
I cried to God for all the things I didn’t rest with Him about over the past year. I cried about missing friends in Wisconsin, Utah, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and even in Virginia from the first move to the second move. I cried about all the situations that were out of my control. I cried for the salvation of family and friends. And then I completely surrendered to Him. I sat back and asked God to intervene, and just like that, the water works stopped! I often forget how powerful the Creator of the universe really is!
That was the first of my personal retreats, and it won’t be the last. I’m already planning my next getaway with the Lord because rest is important. There are no televisions at Sandy Cove. There is quiet, and God is invited everywhere. People are at rest there.
We all carry heavy burdens—sin, excessive demands of others, weariness in the pursuit of God, and for me, plain ol’ tired of packing and unpacking. Resting with Jesus frees us from these burdens. We become refreshed through His love and refueled through His healing and peace.
Rest entails a type of gratitude that wells up in the believer’s heart. The definition of rest is “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” Aha! No wonder we’re all tired, and this race feels like it will never end. Spoiler alert, it will.
When we rest, we refuel. The definition of refuel is to fill or supply again. We run out of fuel while running the race. Not only do we need food and water for fuel, more important than anything, believers need the Word of God to fill and supply us again. That’s how we keep our truth! That’s how God reminds us how to act and care for others. It doesn’t matter where you start or how long you sit to read, simply make God the number-one priority. Rest not always with the television. Rest with God, and refuel your weary body with His Word. Give it a try! It’s like Wheaties in a box. Pinky swear!
Because Jesus knows how important rest really is, He calls us deeply to rest in Him in Matthew 11:28 (NIV), “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It’s true! You can go to Him anywhere. It doesn’t have to be a private retreat. It can be a private walk through the forest or a rest in your favorite chair. He’ll meet you anywhere He is invited! But, really rest and give your soul a much-needed break.
Jesus often went off to “lonely places” to rest and speak privately with His Father. He would get up early in the morning while it was still dark out and go off to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35). Jesus often withdrew, went alone to a mountainside, and prayed all night to God (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 5:15-16). He went alone to pray above the noise and meet with His father. Jesus needed to be with His Father, and He didn’t feel guilty about taking precious time away from family responsibilities or friends, and neither should we. He recognized and knew that rest was a necessity, and He was obedient to the call.
Even if you’re not religious or maybe you’re wondering exactly who this Jesus is about whom I keep talking. Take a day away. Go on a hike or a long walk by yourself, and start talking to God. He can’t wait to hear your voice talking to Him and Him alone. It’s His greatest desire to know you—like really know you and be invited into your life. Get away. Go to where it’s quiet, and He’ll meet you there above the noise.
Maybe you want to know Him a little bit or a lot better, and you don’t know where to start or what to say. Keep in mind He already knows that and can’t wait to hear from you anyway. Just talk. Simply talk. Pull down God’s great big ear and let it rip. You can even cry to Him. Take comfort, knowing that every tear you cry is not wasted; He’s caught every one of them before they hit the ground, and He’ll do it again. He’s right there, waiting to catch every word and every one of your tears.
Rest. Rest into Him. Rest in Him. Rest.
Even still, the race will probably seem long…at least you’ll be rested and refueled to keep running and keep your truth! So, rest well, friends, and refuel like it’s nobody’s business! Lace-up, and let’s keep running and keep our heads held high above the noise!