Early this morning, I picked up an old devotional. Today’s reading was about rest. The author used the illustration of rests in music. “Rest is a part of the making of the music.” If there were no rests in music the melody would be chaotic and confusing. The same principle holds true in the symphony of our life’s song. We need periodic rests.
Jesus modeled this for us. The Gospel writer Luke, reflecting on Jesus’s life, wrote, “He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). The Psalmist also understood this principle and wrote, “My soul finds rest in God alone” (Psalm 62:1). The pauses in our lives allow us to be revived in the wonder of God’s presence. I have found when we don’t take the invitation to rest seriously, God often steps in with forced rest. Like David wrote in Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).
Rest goes beyond just a good night’s sleep. What helps me to find rest is to think in terms of the different kinds of rest that I might need. This breaks it down for me and allows me to focus on finding rest in God alone. I might need rest from writing or from traveling. I might need rest from wrestling with a problem or from intense decision-making.
You need rest as well.
Here Are 3 Types of Rest Your Soul Needs
Rest from Judging and Criticizing Others. In Matthew 7:1-3, Jesus tells us rather emphatically not to judge others. When we criticize and judge others it actually damages our souls. In today’s polarized society, many are quick to throw stones at those who have different opinions. Don’t be a part of our critical culture. Instead, rest from judging and criticizing others. Take a long break from being critical. Instead, look for the best in others. As you focus your attention on the treasure inside each person, your soul will benefit by becoming more joyful!
Rest from Worrying about the Future. Worry ties our stomach up in knots. None of us knows what the future holds. It’s filled with uncertainty. However, God’s character is steadfast and unchanging. Your brain needs a rest from spinning scenarios of what might happen. This is where we pray what Richard Foster has called the prayer of relinquishment: “Not my will but yours be done.” It can be helpful when worry is pummeling your mind to open your hands and imagine giving all those scenarios to the Father. Then immediately switch your focus to praising God for His character. As I’ve written before, anxiety and praise can’t co-exist in the same brain. So open your hands, pray the prayer of relinquishment, and start praising God that He has it all! He is good and faithful and perfectly able to handle all the details of your life.
Rest from Comparing Yourself or Your Situation to Others. Here you might need a rest from social media. Social media is a tool that can be a blessing. However, the blessing turns into a curse when we begin to compare our lives to the lives of others. When Peter tried to compare his life to John’s, Jesus spoke very directly: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). Boom! Today, Jesus might say, “If I want to bless her marriage, or if I want to increase her following, or if I want to bless him with a more advanced promotion, or if I want to give them a stunning new house, what is that to you? You follow me!
Ask the Lord to be the director of your life’s orchestra. Don’t give the baton to someone else. Then don’t waste time comparing the music of your life story to how others are performing. Keep your focus on the director.
Friend, many of us are frazzled or stressed out. Make it your goal to embrace rest. Take a break from criticizing, worrying, and comparing. None of those are helping you to live a life of beauty. Open your hands and let them go. Relinquish your life’s symphony into the hands of the Almighty conductor. Trust Him with the pace and rhythm of your life. When He invites you to rest, respond with obedience. Your life is meant to be a beautiful melody of praise!