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Rest

Go get some sleep!

Jesus said, "Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest." There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat.
Mark 6:31

A recent Internet pass-around had the heading "Signs you've had too much of the '90s." Several of these "signs" give evidence that we tend to ignore Jesus' words regarding rest:

  1. You have a "to-do list" that includes entries for lunch and bathroom breaks, and they are usually the ones that never get crossed off.
  2. You get excited when it's Saturday and you can wear sweats to work.
  3. You think working a "half-day" means leaving at five o'clock.

Working long hours and not getting enough sleep are so common that we no longer consider them liabilities. We brag about them to one another. We never stop to consider the spiritual impact of contemporary work and leisure habits.

Scientists tell us that before the invention of electric lights, most people slept an average of ten hours per night. Today, we average less than seven-and-a-half hours. Many of the health problems that we face today are directly related to a lack of sleep, yet we doggedly attempt to squeeze a little more out of each day. 'What we discover is that in our quest to do more and be more, we often create such a high degree of stress that we cannot sleep when we get the chance!

In the passage above, Jesus had just learned that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been killed. Even the Son of God experienced the limitations of the human body when faced with grief, hunger, and too many demands. By his example he taught the disciples to minister effectively over the long haul by taking care of their physical needs.

Somehow, we must come to believe the words of Jesus and learn to create time and space for rest and quiet. Just as stress and fatigue put a damper on marital intimacy, they create a real barrier to our spiritual intimacy as well.

Time-management experts often recommend keeping a time log in order to identify wasted time. Their goal is to redeem that time for productive work. But the same exercise could also be used to redeem time for rest and recreation. Instead of giving in to the cultural expectations to do more, we can focus on those spiritual disciplines that lead us to be more.

Ed Rowell

Reflection
What if I adjusted my bedtime backwards by fifteen minutes this week—and then by another fifteen minutes next week? What would I lose? What would I gain?

Prayer
Lord, help me to remember that rest is necessary and productive, and a gift from you!

"Sometimes, the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap."

—Richard Foster, writer


July/August
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