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Dare to Be Disciplined
"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." (Mark 6:30-32 NIV)
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Part of living a life of discipline is learning the importance of rest. Rest is not an option if we are to function at our best. Sometimes we try to feed emotional needs by refusing to rest. After all, the world will surely fall apart without our input – or will it? Perhaps we stay busy because we are afraid to face our past or even the future. Guilt keeps us moving, trying to prove our worth.
For most of my adult life, I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. My Day Timer has, at times, been my Bible. The result has always, always been exhaustion, burnout and watered down ministry. Everything looked great on the outside, but God and I both knew that the facade I had so carefully erected was nothing more than a meaningless monument to self. The house built upon the sand seemed like very familiar digs, and I was not alone.
We are masters of rationalizing our way to man's approval. I am convinced that when we are willing to surrender our lives to the tyranny of the urgent, the enemy will keep 'em coming – people who need you immediately, those who clamor for your attention above your family and personal relationship with God, or the person who can talk to no one but you. The list of ego strokes goes on.
Through the years, God has grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent Father who understands the value of rest. Jesus even modeled the truth that it is in Sabbath moments that we will find Him most precious and hear His voice more clearly. After all, He was in charge of the creation process that included the need for rest. Did God need to rest? Obviously not, but by creating a day of rest, He drove home the fact that our bodies were created in such a way that rest is not an option.
Make no mistake – we will rest – one way or another. The psalmist writes, "He gives me rest in green pastures." (Psalm 23:2, ICB) I know from my own experience, that the word "make" holds worlds of possibilities from God's hand. Learning to rest demands an understanding of several basic truths.
Rest is sacred. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep. The human body is programmed for a certain amount of rest. We can cheat it short term but not long term. Rest affects the efficiency rating of this frail body in which we dwell.
Rest is replenishing. While we rest, the Father repairs and restores. We run on "batteries" that must be re-charged daily. When I am tired, it is much harder for me to handle stress, and I know you will agree with me when I say that life can be stressful.
Rest reduces stress. Doctors say that stress can be good or bad, but either way, stress takes its toll. Elijah is a great example of good stress gone bad. One day he was the conquering hero, the next day we find him sitting under a Juniper tree begging God to let him die! The poor man was exhausted. It was stress produced by victory, but stress nonetheless.
Rest eliminates fatigue. Fatigue is not a spiritual gift, but we proudly wear dark-circled eyes as badges of honor and sacrificial service. The enemy loves it! If he can keep us exhausted, we are little threat to him. We must not only learn to rest, but we must learn when we need to rest as well. I have discovered an irritating truth with no escape clause: we need to rest most when we have the least amount of time to rest. I hate the fact that God calls me from my vicious circle of religious activity into His presence. After all, I spent a lot of time getting all of those irons into the fire I built with my own ideas and plans. However, every time I obey His call to "come apart," He transforms ineffective religious activity into powerful, life- transforming ministry – true ministry. We need to stop, be still and rest.
On the seventh day of creation, God rested; a fact that always amazes me. Did He need to rest? Obviously not, but when God set aside a day for rest, He made a powerful point. Our bodies were created in such a way that rest is not really an option. Rest is a physical reality and a spiritual discipline.
Father, forgive me for the arrogance that keeps me on the run, trying to prove my worth. Teach me how to rest in You, Lord. Help me learn how to say "no" to those things that keep me from sitting at Your feet. Give me a hunger and thirst for You that can only be satisfied by time alone with You. I love You, Lord.
In Jesus's name,
Now It's Your Turn
Today, make the commitment to carve out a daily time to spend in rest. Sit at His feet. Allow Him to restore, replenish and refocus your heart and mind. Then rise to serve Him and lead others to the "quiet waters" of rest.
- Define "rest" and examine your life in light of that definition.
- Why do you feel guilty when you rest?
- Do you think of rest as unproductive? Why?
- Does that thought line up with God's plan?
- Find two ways to incorporate rest into your daily schedule this week. At the end of the week, list the benefits that rest has produced in your life.
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