[Today’s devotion on rest is part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday for fresh insights from God’s Word to jumpstart your week.]
Today’s Scripture: 1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Psalm 127:1-2, NIV)
A few years ago, I was heading into a meeting with one of my college professors. It was my second-to-last semester, and that meeting was just one of the many things I had on my mind. It was another thing I had to do.
I was meeting once a week with her to work on an extra project I was doing for my honors requirement. That project was on top of my already heavy course load, my job, preparing Sunday School lessons, preparing homeschool lessons, and choreographing a dance for Easter.
I thought if I could just push myself through to Easter, most of my big projects would be finished, and I could relax a little.
But I was at a breaking point, and when I walked into that meeting, my professor knew it.
She asked me what was going on, and through tears (anybody else ugly cry when they’re stressed?) I explained that I had more on my plate than I could handle.
It was then that she gave me the best, most counterintuitive advice I had ever heard: “We’re not going to work on the project today. Go take time for yourself.”
It seems counterintuitive because if you take time for yourself, you’re taking away time you could be using to knock a few items off your endless to-do list. However, growing research continues to suggest that your brain needs breaks to function at optimal levels. In other words, you’re doing yourself no favors by running yourself ragged. And let’s be honest, that to-do list never actually shrinks anyway.
God wants us to rest too. Psalm 127, a short and sweet psalm of five verses, explains that when we rise up early and stay up late “toiling for food” — or working too much — we do it “in vain.” It’s useless. Not only is it useless, but it’s a fast-pass ticket to burnout.
The Bible is filled with examples of rest. You’re likely familiar with God resting on the seventh day of Creation, establishing the Sabbath. You may often quote Jesus saying “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” in Matthew 11:28. You may remember how Jesus would often get away alone to pray (Luke 5:16). We know these things. But do we practice them?
When my professor gave me that advice, I stared at her for a moment confused, unsure if it would help. I had so much to do. But I took her suggestion. I went down to the cafe, bought myself a cup of tea and a candy bar, then went on a walk. When I was done, I had calmed down and was ready to tackle my work with confidence.
Life gets busy. If you’re in ministry, you may feel like you always have to be “on.” But you need rest, even if you have to schedule it somewhere in your already filled planner.
According to Psalm 127:2, rest is God’s gift to you. He gives it to you because He loves you. Take it.
Today’s Thoughts: Do you take a little time each day for yourself to rest? What worries and hindrances get in the way of you taking that time? What could happen if you set aside those worries long enough to take a break from the busyness of life?