Resisting Rest

In May I had these plans for a quiet summer. I was going to enjoy the sunny patio at work, make tons of coffee appointments to get to know people better, and spend the rest of my time studying and writing at a leisurely pace. Um…reality check. The summers around here are certainly different, but no less full than the other seasons. My ministries might be on hiatus, but someone forgot to tell that to my calendar.

It’s downright miraculous how fast life can fill up. On Sunday afternoons when I sit down to coordinate my week, it takes about two nanoseconds to cement every hour. My days are filled with mentoring meetings, staff meetings, intern classes, guest teaching at various groups, pastoral search team meetings, interviews, and meetings to plan future meetings. There were two wonderful trips in June — a work trip to Canada and a personal trip to my brother’s wedding — both of which were refreshing, but when I got back I realized that June was gone. It was just gone and my stomach got that petrified feeling. I hadn’t accomplished nearly half of what I’d hoped.

I’ve got serious work to do. I’m writing a curriculum for a 5 month Bible study on the Holy Spirit and I’m really excited about where it might lead our groups. I’m preaching two Sundays in August and preaching is a Joy, but there’s a lot of spiritual percolation that needs to happen to shape a good sermon. All these meetings are important too, but as I sit through them, under the din of conversation, I hear this whisper like the voice of Voldemort speaking Parseltongue. The creeper is saying — You have so much to do — and while others talk and make decisions around me, I respond (internally) with the drone of the hypnotized — Yes. Yes Master, I do!

Friday and Saturday are my days off. I like to use one for necessary tedium like errands and home pedicures, and one for Sabbath. I’m usually equal parts gleeful and languid by Thursday night, but this summer has tossed in a liberal squeeze of anxiety. The anxiety comes from knowing that there is much left to do and feeling like my time is out of my control.

My head is full of the enemy’s whispers that I don’t really have time to rest. That work is more important than me. He reminds me that people will be watching me and won’t my sermon be that much better if I put in a few hours on Saturday? That certainly 12 hours of daylight are enough to hit the ATM, meal plan and buy groceries, read a mystery, work out, grab coffee with a friend, do 3 loads of laundry, clean the bathroom, watch a movie, and find my missing sandal.

Summer has become a battlefield for not just my time, but my heart. It’s being versus doing, and most days doing has the bigger arsenal. Victory hangs on this question — will I surrender to my call to pastor and prioritize God and others, or will I enslave myself to work?

How I use my time is really a litmus test for idolatry. Every day my calendar forces me to ask, do I bow to God alone, or to God and ____?

Thursday night is almost here and I’m again tempted to resist the rest that I so desperately need. I need it because I am human. I have limits. I’m also worth more than my work could ever measure. Good rest will help me rediscover the joy of simply being a child of God, and the knowledge that that is enough. In fact, it’s everything.

Photo by Jake Givens

Photo by Jake Givens

3 thoughts on “Resisting Rest

  1. I’m not sure it’s an either/or question. I hear you struggling with balance. For me the frenzy, the overwhelm, often comes not so much from outside, as I would like to think, but rather from my own fears. Here’s a link to a song, the lyrics of which raise important questions about how we use our call. Lately, I’ve been praying this: Breathe, and trust the rest.

  2. I have always appreciated the thought of “being” vs “doing”, a phrase I first read from Charles Swindoll. However, actually living that out is an ongoing challenge even for those of us who say that is how we want to live. For myself, regular time in God’s Word, even just 15 min, refocuses the lens of my mind and spirit to prioritize the unseen over the everday things of this world that are staring me in the face. However, the struggle remains real.

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