I like to think of myself as an independent, go getting, overly productive person. I am on my feet the majority of the day, and with our move from the city to a farm there is even more to do outside. I have no shortage of tasks to keep me stewarding over all the blessings we have received. The one task I am not great at is resting. I want to charge headlong into my to do lists at full steam until it is done, but sometimes I make things a little harder than they should be.
Recently I brought home a new little dog, but he met my big dog in my lap in our car. It didn’t go so well because the little dog was scared of my big dog. Both held their ground and got into a snapping match that resulted in a deep cut and several bruises around my knee. No one was biting, neither dog was hurt, they are now inseparable buddies, but the claws of an 80 lb dog are do joke.
I decided to soldier through worship and church the next morning, went to a friends birthday party, and would have charged further into our Sunday functions if not for a sudden change in my leg. It started swelling down into the lower leg, got immensely more painful and we headed to the nearest Emergency Room. After a quick evaluation with a doctor I was given penicillin, a tetanus shot, and the experience of scrubbing out an infected cut. Then we were given the instructions to ice it, take pain medication and above all REST with it elevated for a few days.
Now you would think that after caring for my duckies for years, I would welcome a break from housework but it is hard to let things go and not step in to ‘fix’ things. My older kids did a great job of helping with some chores, and my mother in law took over my lunch duties for a few days. That is when I realized that even overdoing my stewardship can be hazardous to my spiritual growth and sometimes rest is a powerful thing.
There are several verses in the bible that encourage rest, but my favorite passage on rest in action is Mark 6:30-44. This comes after the death of John the Baptist when the disciples had taken his body to be buried in a tomb.
‘And the apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus and told him all the things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said to them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest for a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and proceded them, and came together to him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when they day was now far spent, his disciples came to him, and said, this is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said to them, Give you them to eat. And they say to him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He said to them, How many loaves have you? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies on the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
Many of us know the miracle Jesus performed by feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. This is a sunday school lesson taught to our kids, a sermon for God sustaining our needs in hard times, but for me it is a lesson in the power of rest. The disciples had worked for Jesus. Then Jesus sent them to rest, and that act of resting was the catalyst for the people coming out of the city, Jesus having compassion for them, teaching them into the evening, and then the miracle happened. That miracle was built on the disciples being obedient to Jesus’ plea for them to rest. If you think about rest as the first step to our discipleship everything else falls into place. A good nights rest on Saturday night gets us ready to actively participate in bible studies, worship and the sermon the next morning.
I am not saying that we should be at rest all the time because we should still be working hard to be great stewards of all our blessings. I can’t tell my kids to cook their own food because I am resting, but I can take a moment to sit and be still. We should be active disciples of Christ until our last breath, and we should be working towards greater wisdom and spiritual growth by being in the Bible. However, resting in the knowledge of how God works all things together for our good is resting wisely.
My backfired dog introduction lead to an injury requiring me to sit down for three days, ended up in a social media post that got me inspired by a friend to keep rest as a topic, and ultimately brought me to the bible passage above. Before I started digging in Mark 6 I had no idea that a miracle had started with the act of rest. My act of resting opened my eyes to a wisdom that is often overlooked in our impatient culture of instant gratification.
Here I am with a leg that is healing, two dogs that act like they came from the same litter, and a better understanding of how to make rest the beginning of a greater stewardship. So take some time this week to rest in God, meditate on a bible passage, and get a little rejuvenation in your soul.