The Priority of Rest

In Luke 10, Luke tells us about an interesting story that can help underscore the priority of rest in our lives…

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).

It would seem that Mary had discovered the joy of Psalm 116:7… “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.”

We Are Busy People

I recently read a list of several common household items which very few modern people still have in their homes today. Thanks to modern technology filing cabinets, land line phones, and apparently wall calendars are quickly becoming a thing of the past. I’ve never owned a filing cabinet, because frankly I’ve never been that organized. The landline went out of my life about nine years ago, but I’ve got to admit I love my oversized wall calendar, which I affectionately refer to as, “My Brain.”

I flip that calendar over at the end of the month, and for a moment I revel in the beauty of the blank spaces filling the new month. I fantasize for a moment and pretend that the upcoming month really is blissfully blank. The calendar and I both know this is not the case, though. So, with a sigh I start filling it in. Work, music classes, art classes, sport’s practice, doctor’s appointment, orthodontic appointment, youth group, church event, birthday party. It doesn’t take long to fill that calendar right up.

Whether you keep it on your wall, or on your phone, or simply jangling around in your head, we all have our ongoing list of things to do. And regardless of how much you may try to simplify your life, the truth of the matter is if you have a job and family you are just going to be busy.

Finding the Devil in the Details

We might be tempted to think that if the busyness is stressing us out, then that must be the culprit. Cut out the busyness and the stress will go away. You could try that, and no doubt there are obligations here and there that we could afford to cut out, but what about the stuff you can’t cut out? Our families still need clean laundry, and dinner, and help with homework, and dentist appointments. Our jobs still need our attention. Our church obligations still need our attendance and planning.

In my life I have found that I can handle the busyness when I balance it with rest. Balance. Avoiding the ditch on both sides of the road. It is when we push, push, push and never take a moment, never plan for a few quiet moments before the chaos, that we find ourselves like Martha, tired, stressed and “cumbered about.”

Planning for Rest

When something is a priority in my month, it gets “Calendar Space.” Even my kids understand that if they really want something to stay front and center in my mind, then we better put it on, “My Brain.” If we will give calendar space to birthday parties, dinners, appointments, etc., why can’t we give some calendar space to rest? It feels weird even thinking about that, doesn’t it? We are so wired to go, go, go that the idea of planning some rest feels foreign to some of us.

Let us not forget, though, that God Himself called His people to give “calendar space” for rest. Even before the invention of a calendar, God gave us this very important concept in the Ten Commandments…

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Ex. 20:8-11, emphasis added).

God’s “rest” on the seventh day did not mean God was tired. Rather, it represented the completion of His work so He could now begin to rule His creation. Now we are called to rest (give “calendar space”) to rest in order to better serve as His representatives in the world He has created. Yet, we (puny, weak, humans that we are) convince ourselves on a weekly basis that we don’t need to rest. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

The Miracle of Rest

When we give ourselves time to rest, the time is not wasted. The miracle of rest is that when you make it a priority, you come back with even more energy and enthusiasm for your work and responsibilities. In most cases I find that I can get twice as much done after some down time. So, my time is still being managed efficiently.

What Mary Knew

Mary was not at the feet of Jesus in Luke 10 because she was lazy. She was there because she needed to rest there in His presence. She needed to stop everything and just hear Him. Are we giving ourselves that gift? If you read this blog it is likely because you are a “Doer” in your church. You are a servant who loves to give of your time and energy teaching and ministering to children.

In order to give your best to these things, though, you must find a place of rest first. Are you taking time for this “one needful thing?”

Sarah Reeves

You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.

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