By Erin Wicklund, Hope Lutheran Foundation
One afternoon I was sitting alone in my office putting 110% of myself into a project, but completely disheartened by my progress. Exhaustion was setting in when my co-worker, Sister Rosemary, came to say goodbye for the day. Pulling on her coat, she took a long look at me and said the most beautiful words: “Rest. You’ve worked enough.”
It was like God had sent an angel. In that difficult season, I felt like I needed permission to rest. Sister Rosemary’s words went straight to my heart. God knew that I needed to hear that I’d done enough. I had lost the internal ability to gauge my needs so He used my co-worker to deliver His loving message to me. I stopped and my hope returned. I likely skipped to the bus stop. I had worked ENOUGH? No one had ever said that to me before.
In one of our scripture verses this week, the prophet Elijah was on the run from the evil queen Jezebel. He was alone and exhausted, as I had been. Finally Elijah stopped & sat down under a bush, completely disheartened. He prayed that God would just let him die. “I’ve had enough, Lord,” he said. And he fell asleep. Poor guy. He had been working hard for God (dealing with false prophets on Mount Carmel). God saw, heard, and loved Elijah so He sent an angel to bake some bread. (I love this story!) Elijah rested and ate; God used that time to restore him for the 40-day walk ahead.
God offers us renewal at the point of burnout, but he also shows us a way to avoid this total exhaustion. God understands that it is never a matter of IF we humans will get tired, it’s a matter of WHEN. So He commands us to REST, preferably before our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits are utterly depleted. Right off the bat, when he was CREATING the WORLD, He created rest. And very early on, when He was giving Moses instructions on how to live, he made Sabbath time a requirement for us. God delights in diligent work and He ALSO delights in rest. He asks us to pre-plan it, to set time aside for it. God knows that rest is GREAT for us!
How can you take a moment to rest today (and each day)? Do make a “Rest Plan” for later this week and later this season. Include God in your rest. He is the one who offers true refreshment. Time with Him is time when our minds can go beyond ourselves for a while. Jesus says, “Come to be all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Trust Him to hold up the world while you take your eyes off of it for a time.
Prayer: God of Rest, Thank you for designing every living thing with the cycle of work and rest. It is amazing that our bodies and minds are fueled by rest. Make us people who value rest as part of your design. Help us learn to receive the rest & renewal you offer so that we can be healthier, happier people. Amen.