Why Can’t I Rest?

I’ll go ahead and start out with a confession – I stink at resting. Working hard feels native to me, but resting is something I really have to focus on if I am going to make it happen. Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea of rest. It sounds like a wonderful concept. When you consider the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits of rest how could anyone reject it as a core and basic need?

Yet every week I find that rest is a struggle. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I both took a Sunday off work, which was glorious because we rarely have a chance to even see each other on Sunday’s. We went out and had a fun breakfast, we planned to go for a long walk and simply enjoy time together. There was nothing on the agenda for the day aside from rest.

While enjoying this day together I noticed something happening inside of me. Around every corner was a moment where something rose up within me and tried to take over. The thing which rose up could be summarized by one word – Striving.

There was nothing I needed to accomplish that day – it was a day off. But I still felt this desire to strive and get ahead. “I’ll just send one little email. Let me fire off this quick text and then be done. I’m just going to spend a short amount of time thinking about how to make my team better.” If I am not careful these thoughts can take over a day when I intend to pause from striving.

See I want to rest – not just because of the restorative benefit for my body, but I am convinced God has a spiritual agenda for my soul. No one ever told me that rest is a key battlefront in our spiritual struggle. (Click to tweet)

On the surface it would seem that rest is about us. What if there is something more to this idea of rest? What if rest and ceasing from striving is a way I express the goodness and grace of God? There is so much I want to accomplish, so many things I want to be a part of and excel at – and often that desire can go from healthy to corrosive in my soul:

  • The desire to have a calm and clean home that becomes a hyperactive OCD
  • The hope to excel at work that leads to 70 hour work weeks and no days off
  • That longing to be a part of something meaningful which turns something good like volunteer work into an idol

I believe God created to live in balance. Striving is not a bad thing when under control, but it is dangerous when it begins to control you. (Click to tweet)

A healthy amount of striving will push you to grow, but taken too far striving will corrode your soul. (Click to tweet)

So God gave us this idea of rest – to allow us moments to cease from striving. In rest we turn off the engine of advancement and hand God the keys. Rest declares in thought and action that you ultimately trust God for provision and advancement in your life. (Click to tweet)

So fellow workaholics: I encourage you to lean into a healthy rhythm of rest. Learn to take time each day, a day each week, and a number of weeks each year to cease from the press to get ahead.

3 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Rest?

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