Rest is a state of mind – Part 1
As someone who is perpetually exhausted, my bed is one of my favourite places. Surprisingly, that is not the rest I am talking of today.
Let’s consider some of the best known words in the Bible
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3)
“Really? As if? When would I have time for that? Five children and husband to keep house for, lots of friends to support and spend time with, writing projects on the go, church activities to fit in….when have I got time to lie down in green pastures and be led beside quiet waters? You’ve got to be joking. Anyway, keeping busy is what matters in life, doing good things for God, using my time and resources wisely and effectively. How guilty would I feel if I took time to sit down, to be quiet? And what would everyone else think of me? I’d soon be labelled as the lazy one around here.”
What can you hear? Bitterness and resentment? Fear and paranoia? Duty and responsibility?
But when I read the words of Psalm 23, I actually want to cry. When I sing “Rest, my soul, in Christ alone”, a yearning wells up inside me – to rest, to let out a big sigh, to relax in the presence of God. When I hear Jesus say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), I desire to do just that.
I’ve just been to my weekly Pilates class, which is my opportunity to focus for one hour a week on getting my body back into alignment after a week of misuse, overuse and bad posture. One session a week is not enough of course, but it does just enough to leave me physically restored and refreshed and to remind me of the importance of looking after my body.
So wouldn’t it be good to set aside an hour a week to sit in the garden contemplating the breeze in the trees or to go for a walk by the stream in the nearby woods (WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY)? This could be my opportunity to focus for an hour a week on getting my soul back into alignment with my Creator after a week of emotional struggles and spiritual exhaustion. One session a week would not be enough, of course, but maybe it would do just enough to leave me spiritually restored and refreshed and to remind me of the importance of looking after my soul.
So make me lie down in green pastures.
Please lead me beside quiet waters.
Restore my soul.
And then my yearning will be satisfied.
Tears will no longer sting my eyes.
Then the Lord will be my shepherd and I shall not be in want.