A theme of rest has been threading it’s way through each area of my life: a call to introspection. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about rest, as it’s something I know I need in my life. Being a homeschooling mother of four, there’s not a lot of time for this illusive rest. Every moment of my day is filled. There’s a lot of questions, a lot of touching, a lot of noise, a lot of expended energy and not a lot of “me-time”. Even as I type this at 6:30 in the morning, my oldest is sitting next to me because she just wants to be near me.
We make time for what is most important to us, and it takes extreme intention to add rest into our habits. If you want to see what someone’s priorities are, look at their schedule. And if you looked at my schedule a couple of weeks back, having a time of solitude and introspection would not have been on my list of priorities.
Here’s the word that kept coming back to me as I thought about rest: DISCIPLINE.
Well that’s not a fun word.
It’s certainly not a word we toss around often these days. Self-care? We love that word. Me-time? Yep, let’s make some room for that. But discipline seems consistently omitted from our vocabulary.
But I truly believe that rest begins with discipline and restraint. With so many things vying for our attention, it takes discipline to rejects those things. Our phone dings and buzzes and ticks at us all day. There are to-dos to cross off and TV shows to watch. There are places to go and people to see and FOMO we must avoid!
These things are not necessarily bad things. But what if all the good things are actually distracting us from the greatest thing? What if deep within us, our hearts, our souls, our spirits are craving to be at REST?
Let’s define rest. I’m not talking about getting a solid 8 hours of sleep, although that’s important for our physical bodies. I’m referring to the deepest rest; the kind that reaches into our spirits, our inner-beings, and floods us with true restoration. The kind of rest where we are quiet and alone long enough to be in tune with our Creator.
Meister Eckhart says, “The noblest attainment in this life is to be silent and let God work and speak within.”
THE noblest. Of course this quote can be up for debate, but let’s consider that he’s right. What if the best, the most important, the most fulfilling thing that we can do in our lives is to be silent and let God work and speak within us?
Personally, I think he’s right. Even Jesus had something to say about this. Quick re-cap on this story from the Bible found in Luke 10. Martha and Mary were sisters. When Jesus visited their house, the sisters were found in quite opposite scenarios. Martha was getting dinner prepared, serving the guests, cleaning up the kitchen – you know, the stuff that HAD to get done and somebody had to do it! And Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet. Not doing anything. Just sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him.
Jesus looks over at Martha and says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but ONE thing is NECESSARY. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha was serving others and getting things done that had to get done. In today’s world we would praise her efforts: she’s hustling, she’s a boss lady, she can do it all!
But Jesus flips our human thinking upside down. He actually critiques her. He doesn’t tell her that what she is doing is bad, but instead He goes straight for the heart. “Martha – why are you anxious? Why is all of this troubling you? Don’t you know you’re missing out on being with your Creator? I’m RIGHT here. Why are you trying to please me with all of this work? I just want you to be with me!”
When we read this story, let’s admit it… we’re all kind of thinking that Mary should have gotten up and done something, right? It would be HARD to be in that situation and sit still at Jesus’ feet. It would have taken some serious discipline.
She risked the angry side-eye from her sister, she risked the others thinking that she was lazy, and she risked not crossing off all the things on her to-do list that day. But she threw off the list and the pressures of the people around her and chose stillness. She chose to be at her Creator’s feet.
When we say we “have no time,” I believe what we really mean is that we don’t have the discipline to say “no.” Ouch. I know.
In order to attain the true rest we seek, we must strengthen our muscle of restraint.
Each of us could fill our days with a limitless amount of tasks. There is always something to get done, and there will always be people to please. So yes, we’ll never have enough time. But rest, silence, solitude should be a priority that doesn’t get pushed out of our schedule.
And if we truly believe the most important thing we could do is be still before God and lay our inner-most beings bare before Him, we will make time for it. And I guarantee we won’t be so troubled and anxious like our familiar friend, Martha.