“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
If people in Jesus’ time were desperate for rest, how much more so in today’s fast paced world, with our jam-packed calendars, our constantly connected technology, our bodies trying to keep up with our minds, which are often racing ahead towards the next task. We are constantly in motion. If only we were as good at resting as we are at being busy! All this busyness, without time to be still causes us to become tired. Soul tired. Over the next few blog posts I would like to look at practicing stillness and rest in our busy world.
For some, the reason for this busyness stems from the real necessity to earn a living and provide for a family. For others it may come from a deep longing to gain position or authority, and somehow earn value, even love. But all these things can be found in God our Provider, the one who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us beyond measure. That’s why Jesus invites us to come and find rest in him. And it’s why he said:
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Learning to be still
1. Give yourself permission to rest.
2. Be intentional. Set aside a quiet few moments of solitude each day —put it into your diary. If you aren’t used to being still, start with ten minutes each day, and build on it. You may even find that you either build up to one longer period, perhaps an hour, or several 10-minute ‘rest stops’ throughout the day.
3. Choose a book of the Bible to meditate on through these 10 minute still periods. Where possible, use an ‘actual’ Bible rather than an electronic version. If you’re using a Bible app, there’s always the possibility of being distracted by text messages or emails.
4. Guard your ‘still time,’ be vigilant about not allowing other things to cram in and push out that special time you have set aside to be still in God’s presence. Even the busiest of people can spare at least ten minutes a day.
If it truly isn’t possible to find somewhere quiet and restful around your home, there are ways to create stillness in the midst of your day. Why not turn off the music or podcast in your car and drive in silence to work?
Perhaps in your lunch or tea break, you could go for a solitary walk, or find a place to sit by yourself with no phone, technology or people to interrupt, and meditate on a Psalm.
David wrote this Psalm when he was in the dry, hot wilderness of Judah, exhausted and worn out in body and soul:
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
David knew how to commune with God in the driest desert. What was his secret?
“You are my God.” First, while other nations and individuals around him worshiped false gods, David declared his allegiance to God alone. This is at the heart of David’s intimate relationship with God.
“I earnestly search for you”, David says. In other words, seriously; determined. Not lightly, casually, or flippantly. Not as a last resort. The thirst in David’s soul for God meant that time in God’s presence was top priority, not a casual add-on to his day.
“In this parched and weary land where there is no water.” It’s easy to fall into a pattern of such busyness that we find ourselves drifting far from God, and then we tell ourselves, “I’ll spend time in in his presence again when I’ve got my life together.” But it’s in these dry and weary seasons that we need him more than ever. The most vital time to pray is when we don’t feel like it.
Jesus’ invitation is to all of us. He is the only one who can give us the rest we long for.