Rest: Jesus' Secret to a Well-Balanced Life
Then I got sick. And gone is the strength that powered me as I zoomed my way through the hours of the day (and night). I was left with mounds of dirty laundry and ironing that I did anyway even though I didn't want to, and meals to cook even when I didn't want to eat. All I wanted was to disappear between the blankets, soothe my pounding head with the calming sound of my throaty, labored breathing.
Nobody wants to get sick, but when I got sick this time, I knew I had to somehow get some rest, which I did by going to bed earlier than usual for a couple of nights. I was unfrazzled at the mess unfolded clothes made on the pool table and on the floor. Somehow they'll get folded at their sweet time. I was too sick to care how they looked.
Then the last day of the week came. Saturday. The seventh day Sabbath. Most Sabbaths I volunteer to teach a group of children. We call them Adventurer's Club. And this Sabbath was again my schedule to teach. I was worried. Our little group in our local church in Russia is badly in need of volunteer instructors and one instructor's absence could be sorely felt. But as morning turned to afternoon, I already knew I wasn't indispensable. I believe God has a million ways to do His work, and to do what He calls us to do and be part of His work is a privilege and a great blessing for us. "God has a million ways to bless" His people, a pastor friend of mine often says. This Sabbath, He was blessing me in a special way.
I got rest. A real sabbath rest, which God completely gave to me, restoring my body and spirit in better health. Only by acknowledging the sickness in us can we truly recognize our need of Him and seek Him with all that is in us so we may find rest and restoration in Him. I am still recovering physically, but God has once again given me His gifts of forgiveness, grace and divine companionship. The latter I have dearly missed. Throughout the struggles I went through, His promise that He will "not forsake nor forget" me has slowly slipped through my mind, bullied out by worries, difficulties and bitter relationships. And so, having His companionship again means a world to me.
While still in the throes of being ill, I would often sit because, well, I needed to. And my children, one or two or all of them, all the time would come and sit around me. We would read a book or simply chat, or listen to music, or they would play around me as I watch them. There were lots of hugs and a kiss or two. The girls especially are very affectionate. My son would just look on or shyly accept an affectionate hug... or run away if he couldn't bear all that outward display of affection. On usual days when I often run around to fulfill tasks, I would pass over moments like this because I see it as a waste of my time to just simply sit around. My, I have missed a lot.
This is not what I am meant to do--- so focused on the nonessentials that there is no room left for the greater things in life. So I am asking, what am I meant to do? Rest. This is what I have left out to do that even the greater things in life won't get done because I have no more energy left to do them.
Looking at Jesus while He was here on earth going about His Father's business, I can see an example of a well-balanced life that will keep anybody healthy physically, mentally and spiritually even if one is at the busiest moment of his life. This is what He did...
1. Jesus kept a time to be alone with God in prayer.
We are created for a relationship with God. This is the first reason why we are here. In other words, we were meant to spend time with Him and not run ourselves busy or crazy. What was the first thing the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) did right after they were created by God? Yes, rest! On the sixth day, they were created and on the seventh day, God rested on the Sabbath and made it holy, and Adam and Eve did too. They rested in God. The Sabbath was made as a perpetual date for humankind and the Lover of their Souls to spend time with together.
God wanted a relationship with us, and it would do us good to choose the same. Remember Martha and Mary? Which of the two was happier? In Jesus' words, "But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).
Jesus oftentimes chose to be alone with God despite the needs of the crowds following Him (Matthew 14). Even if work was still undone, He would go off and leave them, not that He didn't care but because He cared enough to look after what is important. He needed to connect with His Father in heaven to find comfort and strength to face the struggles He had and the seemingly unending tasks of meeting people's needs and the even greater task of saving humanity. If Jesus needed time to be with God, how much more we? This is a 'must do' which the wellness of our being hangs.
2. Jesus made time to be with others.
Even in His busy-ness, Jesus made the time to be with his friends and loved ones. See Him and His closest friends mingle with His family and the people at a wedding. See Him find time to hoist a toddler up on His lap as He talked with the children and their delighted mothers. See Him heal people, touch people, feed people, talk with people. See Him visit friends' homes and spend time with them.
In our calling, we should never forget the people God has placed in our lives and across our paths for they have an important part in all of it. It is never healthy to even think we can journey on to heaven alone. The Bible has never suggested such. Instead, the Great Commission commands us to invite others to journey with us to the Heavenly Canaan.
3. Jesus found time to take care of Himself.
After a long day of teaching and attending to other people's needs, Jesus got on a boat with the others to go to the other side to have time for Himself and immediately went to sleep. He was tired and understandably He needed rest. Jesus knew what was important at that moment, and it wasn't the work, even if people's needs were still unmet. At that moment, Jesus just had to rest and He did. (See Mark 4)
I believe that God gives us wisdom to know when we are already going beyond the boundaries of what is healthy and good for us physically, mentally and spiritually. When God made this world for us, He didn't mean for us to work ourselves crazy. In fact, He made all these things for us to enjoy. We need to find time to enjoy what God has blessed us with. We have to intentionally create space and time for ourselves to do what we love and, which no money can ever pay. Make an appointment to exercise or go for a long walk, or take a bubble bath, or read a book, or simply to lie down on the cold snow and enjoy the warmth of the sunshine on the face.
This sabbath rest made me realize that I matter too. There is only one of me, and the people around me needed me to be me and not the tired or crazy, overstressed version of myself. I believe God wants that of us too. He wants to create the best in us. And the only way He can do so is if we rest in Him.
And so, since it's nearing midnight and I badly need a night's sleep after a day of cooking and working outside the home, it's time for me to sign off... hoping that the next blog post will be in better shape than I am at the moment. Take care and be well!
He gives His beloved sleep.
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.
Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it,
because in it He rested from all His work
which God had created and made.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
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