Ahh…REST! It’s a word that sounds so good but is often such a challenge to enjoy, or at least do well. After many weeks of being extremely busy and involved with different people and activities, I find myself desiring to rest. I have a concept in my mind of what that looks like, even feels like. Yet now that I have gotten away with my family to enjoy nature and “rest,” I find it challenging to actually do. My mind still races with busyness and thoughts of “to do’s”. Just now, I struggled with taking a nap. Although my mind was fuzzy and body fatigued, I fought the desire, battling thoughts of what I should do or get done.
The result? I rejected the busy thoughts and chose to take a nap. I decided to “be” instead of “do.” I awakened an hour later and realized how much I was desiring and needing it. I then questioned why I was having a difficult time resting. Quickly, the answer came to me. It was my way of thinking and the years I had lived a certain way. That old, erroneous mindset was even highlighted earlier that morning when we went out to eat breakfast. A waitress was talking to a family of four and commented to the mother how the young girl of about 8 years old was so well mannered. The mother replied, “She’s a hard worker, too!” When I heard this, I had a flashback. This is a statement I have heard many times before. It’s been a mindset in my family for generations, reinforced countless times by words affirming this belief. For much of my life, I had placed value on living up to that standard.
I believe having a strong work ethic is critical and something everyone should have. Just read Proverbs in the Bible and you will realize this. However, there becomes a fine line between someone who works hard versus one who “IS” a hard worker. The issue is that of identity. The latter places importance or value on what one does or achieves. It doesn’t tell you what the person is like or their character, just their actions and what they do or achieve. I know someone who is known as “hard worker” and does a lot of hard working activities with successful results. Yet, to be around this person is very challenging and often unpleasant. This person is often negative in dealing with others, critical, and condescending, talking at you instead of with you.
That comment made at the restaurant made me take a look at myself again. For years I prided myself on being a “hard worker”. However, I didn’t know how to rest nor who I was. My identity was wrapped up in my work and performance. I was a lot like Martha in the Bible story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary. I was working, serving, trying to please people, and mad at others who weren’t helping me. I often felt sorry for myself and the harder I worked, the more I became angry and offended that I was doing all of the work and others were just resting, like Martha’s sister, Mary.
However, Mary wasn’t being lazy. She was serving and working hard right along side of Martha. Yet, when the Lord came into their house, Mary left the serving to sit at Jesus’ feet. The Bible says that she chose the “good part.” She chose to receive His words into her heart so she could get what she needed and be refreshed.
“But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:40-42 NKJV)
There came the day when all of my self efforts and striving couldn’t change my life. No matter how hard I worked, I could not fix my marriage. It wasn’t until I went to sit at the feet of Jesus and heard His words and learned to abide in Him, that I began to change. As a result, I no longer strived but allowed His life to flow out of me. He is the resurrection and the life. In Him I found my true identity. As I changed my mindsets to align with His, I changed and my marriage was resurrected! Praise God!
Do I still struggle at times entering into this rest? —Apparently. Unless I am being intentional, I will be in battle.
My desire is to live daily out of a place of rest, which can only come from an intimate relationship with the Lord. It’s in Him that we live, and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) The world is a busy place to live in, and there are many demands, weights and expectations put on us. However, the Bible tells us we are to live in this world but not be of it. We must make time to take a real rest and be refreshed—physically, emotionally, spiritually. Our bodies are not physically created for all of the stress we put it under. Although our thoughts and emotions want to rule and reign over us, we are to be spiritually minded, not carnally (fleshly) minded. We must turn off all of the outside stimuli, quiet ourselves, and sit at the feet of Jesus. Listen to His words and His still small voice speak to your heart. He alone has the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)