Genesis 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Matthew 7:1 (NKJV)
John 15:12 (NKJV)
I know I talk a lot about resting and sitting in silence with God. I have to admit learning to surrender to a state of ‘resting’ is probably one of the most difficult disciplines I’ve learned to do myself. It’s also a difficult discipline to teach.
Why is that?
I think it’s because it’s counter cultural. Plus, when I was learning to rest I was working for a corporation. If you have worked for a big corporation you understand the stringent guidelines for completing the number of tasks needed to make your quotas every day. Resting is not part of the matrix. Breathing isn’t even part of the guideline. In addition to that, I had worked my way to the #1 customer service area. At one time, my client base was assisting a government entity. There was no room for error.
That environment was my culture by day. When I got off work, it took time for me to de-program my thinking every day. Looking back, the advantage to learning to ‘rest’ while living in that environment is so I can truly say, “I’ve been there, and learning to rest when you are in a difficult circumstance is possible.”
I also think learning to rest when you live in a difficult circumstance like this is essential. Learning to rest after I got off work every day probably saved me from having severe health issues. Because of that, I believe every corporation needs a Spiritual Director on staff. Granted it would need to be someone who will care for any person of any faith, like a military chaplain. I am more open to that than some people are comfortable with because I believe God created every person for a purpose. The first purpose is receiving God’s love and care. Regardless of religion and how others view God, His love is ever-present.
While working for the corporation, I worked with devout Muslims and Muslims who considered themselves to be non-practicing Muslims and I learned to appreciate their candor and desire to speak truth. I’ve worked with people who were practicing Buddhists and Buddhists who honored the religion of their ancestors. What I learned about Buddhists is that they treated me and everything/everyone with great dignity and respect. I’ve worked with Jewish people who were devout, and Jewish people who lived to honor their faith because it was the faith of their fathers before them. I grew to appreciate how they care for their ‘tribe’. I learned as they love God, they will also do anything to support fellow members.
At one point in my career, in my four person cubicle we had a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, and a Christian. I was the Christian. When we discussed religion I took a huge ‘hit’ because of how Christians handled the Crusades. Whenever it came up I would laugh and say, “Really? We need to talk about the Crusades debacle again?” They would laugh and say, “Oh, let’s do.” I loved those folks and the laughter we shared...even about the Crusades!
The truth is, regardless of what you believe or don’t believe about God, He loves you. God created you and wants you to take time to rest your body. If you call on the Universe, you are loved and Your name is called out. If you do not believe in anything, you are loved and your name is still spoken.
As a Christian, God/Jesus and scripture is my guiding light and scripture clearly states, do not judge others or you will be judged (Matthew 7:1) and love one another because God/Jesus loves us (John 15:12).
That’s why on the seventh day of creation, God rested. God loves us and He taught us how to REST. In Genesis, 2:1-2 we read, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”
If God rested, how much more do we need to learn to rest. The Hebrew rest is on the Sabbath from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday. Traditionally, Christians have rested on Sunday because that was resurrection day. I am not one to say we must rest on Saturday or Sunday. I believe you can choose when you rest.
I learned on my crazy journey that part of resting includes:
*Turn off the sound and sit in silence
*Be still...stop the activity
*Make sure get get good quality and quantity sleep time
*Eat real food and hydrate (some say this is not essential but when I cut my carb count to 20-50 grams a day and stopped eating junk food and sugar, I found I was able to obtain a better quality of rest; I also found that by adding appropriate fats back into my diet, I was easily able to obtain and maintain my target weight)
*Exercise daily. Once again, some say this is not essential but I found that Yoga stretching and posturing greatly improved my quality of rest
Remember, I am not an exercise physiologist or a nutritionist. I am a Spiritual Director sharing what worked for me and helped me to rest daily. I practice daily resting and I try to intentionally carve out one day where I rest for several hours. I was not able to do that when I had children in the home. When that is the case, you learn to rest whenever you can.
I was able to obtain that daily rest even while working a full time ‘high brain impact’ job. It was difficult to learn to rest while working in that environment, but it was do-able.
Remember, we are made in the image of God, and clearly that image needs rest. You will notice the definition of rest does not include going to church or worship. Going to church is important and has its place, but I do not equate going to church with rest. In my experience with the American church, going to church provides common fellowship and it provides a place where we can worship with others who share similar faith values, but it is also often a place where judgement is common and competition flourishes. Once again, that’s been my lifetime experience.
One final note on resting...
My personal Spiritual Director of ten years told me over and over again, “stop trying to DO resting yourself.” In other words, I was trying too hard. I had to learn to stop struggling and surrender myself and my rest to God. I needed to listen to the Spirit. I had to let God be in charge of my rest. Until I stopped working at resting, I wasn’t resting. Learning that was a big part of my crazy journey.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Rest
Find a room where you can sit by yourself. Turn off the television or radio so your space is silent. Let your brain rest from thinking and doing any activities. Focus your brain on God. Surrender to God. Sit comfortably in any position. If you haven’t had enough sleep, you may fall asleep. That’s okay...after you wake up, try again. If you have muscle aches and pains, do some simple stretches. I’ve found that by identifying where I hurt, I need to stretch that area for a few minutes. Stretching does wonders for the body. Learning to rest can take time and practice (it did for me) so call it practice. Call it good.
In God, Deborah