You Have Permission to Rest
In our culture, it’s nearly impossible to imagine rest as the norm. People wear their busyness as a badge of honor to look important, either in front of others or themselves. But you have permission to rest. In fact, you have a command to rest. The Third Commandment first told the Israelites to set aside the Sabbath for rest, but I believe that commandment still speaks to us now. God called us from the beginning to make rest a consistent routine, but how many of us put that into practice?
When I was in college, my friends and I couldn’t imagine losing a day for our homework, on-campus job, or extracurricular obligations. We wore ourselves ragged until summer break rolled around—and then the internships began. It wasn’t a sustainable culture. To break free of the cycle, I decided to practice Sabbath. No homework. No job. A day for pleasure reading, eating with friends, going to church, and doing the things I valued that I’d been putting off all week.
However, Exodus 20:8 also tells us that we are to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” How are we to be restful and holy?
I like looking at Mary as an example of holy rest in Luke 10:38-42:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary’s behavior is simple and childlike. Sit at the feet of Jesus, and let His words wash over you regardless of the chaos around you.
What allows you to refresh yourself in Him, not just check off your “Holy” To Do List? There is a difference between resting in God and performing for God. If you’re reading your Bible or listening to a sermon or singing a song because you have to, then that’s not resting. Not that those things can’t be restful—but they depend on your mindset.
The Lord is always waiting for you with open arms. You don’t have to feel a certain way, or think a certain way, or rest a certain way for Him to have great pleasure in your presence. But you should take the time to remember that truth. Start small. Be consistent.
You can always give yourself five minutes to stop and breathe.
If you don’t experience a life-changing spiritual revelation, that’s okay. All you need to be is yourself.