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Free Yourself to Pause and Take a Break

Surrender to God’s desire to shape your soul

In addition to weekly Sabbath keeping, God has given us the gift of sleep. Physical sleep is definitely something to value, and our souls also long for spiritual rest. The Psalmist wrote, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he [that is, God] grants sleep to those he loves (Psalm 127:2 (NIV)).” As leaders, there are times when we are under intense stress and the weight of our responsibility seems unbearable. It is during those times when we are tempted to work harder, rise earlier, or stay up later even after we have put in an honest day’s work. This passage reminds us that these actions are inappropriate—and in some cases sinful—responses, for our moments of greatest need give us opportunities to trust God all the more and must therefore become our moments of greatest surrender.

God has given us Sabbath just as he has given us sleep. Yet sometimes we go to bed and then awake only to find that our souls are still weary. A weary soul is an indicator that we have a poor view of God, our love for him has grown cold, we have an inaccurate or inflated view of ourselves, or we have brokenness and unconfessed sin in our relationships. Either way, we are called to confront these issues and come to God with our restlessness. “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” In addition to physical rest for our bodies, God himself provides rest for our souls.

If we believe that God cares about our whole person, and that he is concerned about our physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational well-being, then why do we so often forgo the opportunities we have to take Sabbaths and sleep, or to rest and retreat? As least part of the reason we do not pause to take breaks is fear and a false sense of control.

This is particularly a concern for women who are wearing the hats of mentor, wife, teacher, working woman, servant, mom, and student. Most of the time there is a general understanding, though not an acceptance, that we cannot do everything that we want done in a given day, at least not to our standard of perfection. We defeat ourselves while pondering questions like Will they think that I am unprofessional if I take sick days from the office and don’t check email on the days I am actually sick? What if I am not “on” 24 hours at home? Will my husband look for satisfaction someplace else? What will happen to my kids if I am not with them? Does it make me a poor mother if I verbalize that I actually need a break? Is taking time for myself a selfish act? Is taking a retreat a luxury?What would other people think if…? What if I am not in charge?

December04, 2014 at 8:00 AM

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