Finding Rest In A Rushed World

Finding Rest In A Rushed World
Photo by Nicole Baster / Unsplash

I want to confess to you this morning that I am likely the least qualified person to talk about rest.

We were having small talk with a few of our friends last month when one of them asked about the next sermon series at church I'd be working on. I told her, "Rest," and without missing a beat, she said, "Hmmm, interesting. You're the least restful person I know."

She didn't mean it in a hateful way; rather, she was just making an observation about what was true.

A couple of days later, I woke up at 2 a.m. with what I can only describe as a panic attack.

I'd never experienced anything like it in my life (sweating, shaking, overwhelming feelings of loneliness, and fear). And it all stemmed from a feeling of being too busy.

So I need this good news from Jesus just as much as anyone else.

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Photo by Aaron Owens / Unsplash

Jesus of Nazareth offers you and me not just rest for our bodies (you can find that in prescriptions and pills), but rest for your soul.

Matthew 11:28-30 - Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - ESV

I love Eugene Peterson‘s paraphrase of Matthew 11:

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” - MSG

However you translate Jesus' invitation, it’s clear that his way is the vision for how you and I are to live in God‘s kingdom: grounded and rested. 

I recently put to memory Jesus' words in John 15,

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - ESV

This is how we bear fruit in Jesus' mind; every single day, we learn to abide (rest fully on) Jesus.

In John's gospel, the fruit we bear looks like love, joy, and peace.

Later in the NT, it is expanded to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control. 

Jesus' word picture for how we are to grow in the soil of our lives is not of ambition, fighting and clawing our way to the top, not working our tail off, and even striving to be more loving, more joyful, and more peaceful. 

Learning to rest in the Father's presence is how Jesus says we bear the fruit of love, joy, and peace.

And the opposite is true, too. When we don't abide in God and cut ourselves off from God through busyness, filled calendars, rushed minds, and anxious hearts, we bear the fruits of burnout, compromise, defeat, anger, and sadness. 

Jesus is not glorified by unhappy, exhausted people.

man in black crew neck t-shirt standing near white window curtain
Photo by Max Harlynking / Unsplash

Have you ever met somebody who is just way over the top stressed out and in and out of sleep in a conversation with them and thought to yourself: I really want what they have?

Imagine your soul as the power bar on your phone.

100% of rest, like being full to the top, is what Jesus calls life to the full. You are brimming over with love and joy. peace, and generosity.

At 100%, you're at ease in your mind and body; you feel fully in tune with God. 

We will say 0% is the opposite; this could be spiraling depression, suicide, or death. 0% could also look like being on your couch for weeks at a time. 

Most of us don’t rest until we get way down to 20 or 10%.

We don’t rest until we have to, and then most of us don’t rest very well. We confuse rest with entertainment or distraction, and most of us don’t rest very long.

So most of the time, we just get back up to being solvent. We get enough rest to show up for work tomorrow morning at 8 and maybe, if lucky, go out with friends that night.

We get ourselves back to a manageable level. 

Here is what I want to show you and what God is trying to teach me right now: it's what we miss between management level and full rest.

We miss out on all the best stuff that Jesus has for us. Because it's in that 90% margin that we find true love, joy, gratefulness, and generosity. Our attention is sharp, and we become far more contemplative in wisdom.

Without rest, and I mean rest before we reach the 20% range, we simply cannot be the people that Jesus has in mind.

We cannot live the life that Jesus has to offer.

Being a follower of Jesus means we pay attention to the amount of rest and margin we give ourselves.