Plans for Rest

I’m sure you can relate to this feeling.

You’ve worked and parented all week, stayed on top of housework for the most part, and participated in a few extra activities in the evenings. You’ve cooked meals, walked the dog, and tried to respond to texts in a semi-timely manner. All in all, you’ve had maybe an hour or two before bed to zone out in front of the TV or scroll through your phone. Then comes the weekend. You spend more than half of Saturday running the errands you didn’t have time for during the week. Then, you have plans with your family, your spouse’s family, maybe some friends. Maybe all three! Throw in church on Sunday, more errands, a little more housework, and prepping for the week ahead.

Once again, you’re left with a couple of hours to veg mindlessly on Sunday night.

This is when the “Sunday Scaries” start to creep in. You get a sense of dread as you look at the week to come. And overall, you just don’t feel as rested as you should after a weekend that was meant to be a break from working.

Dellan and I have been caught in a loop like this many, many times. It’s been so easy to overbook our schedules and say yes to every opportunity to fill our time.

When the US went into lockdown in the spring of 2020, a couple of happenings led to us making a change.

First, we noticed just how much better we felt with less commitments. With some newly forced breaks in our schedules, we felt like there was space to catch our breath and actually relax. We took walks together, had slow Saturday’s at home, and were reading for enjoyment.

This new reading habit led to the second thing: we picked up The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer.

John Mark writes about how our culture of hurrying is slowly killing us. He describes a counteractive Kingdom mindset emphasizing rest and Sabbath. I highly encourage giving it a read.

He describes a phenomena that since reading I have thought about often: We have to give our souls time and space to catch up with our bodies.

This is an abstract idea, but it puts words to something I’ve experienced numerous times. If I found a quiet hour or two to spend with the Lord, read a book, do something creative, or just sit and enjoy some solitude, it seemed to take a long time to fully wind down. By the time I felt relaxed, I’d have about 15 minutes before I needed to do the next thing.

I realized that I wasn’t allowing myself the space to truly rest. And my mind, my health, my sleep, and my contentment were taking a hit as a result.

Since that time, we have started to implement a day of rest in our routine. Our Sabbath is from Friday evening until Saturday evening, and giving our souls a chance to catch up with our bodies has made a huge difference.

Not only has it given us the rest that we have been craving, it changes how we view the rest of our week. It’s easier to work hard the other six days when you know that you’ll have one big chunk of rest at the end of the week. Instead of spreading out smaller chunks of mindless pseudo-rest during the week, we get to look forward to a full day of doing whatever is life-giving for us.

The sweetest thing about Sabbath, though, is that it was created and commanded by God. This is not a “life hack” human idea but a generous gift from Him.

He knows that we operate best when we work after receiving rest. He desires that we take one day to pause and just enjoy Him. He is not a ruthless taskmaster; He is a loving Father who desires for us to live abundantly.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 (ESV)

Participating in a day of rest goes against our culture at large. Most people are packing their days with work and activities and service and social events. These are not bad, but they can slowly start to take over our time and, as a result, our lives. Before we know it, our time has been stolen, our intimacy with God and our family has been killed, and our body and spirit feel destroyed.

Because taking a Sabbath goes against the cultural norm, it can be difficult to protect our schedule. I know I have felt like just because my calendar is open that I have to agree to a time commitment. Even after many months of setting aside a Sabbath, I still struggle to protect my time and there are often gray areas.

I have found comfort, however, in knowing that I have a reason to turn something down even if nothing is written on my calendar. I might not have a coffee date or a doctor’s appointment causing schedule conflicts… but I definitely have plans.

Plans to enjoy God.

Plans to cease from striving.

Plans to make memories with my family.

Plans to allow my soul to breathe.

And those, my friends, are plans enough.

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