Friday, September 18, 2015

Hitting the Pause Button by Jim Hart

Many of us find it difficult to take a break from our work, even sometimes for lunch, let alone taking the afternoon, or (gasp) a day off. We are so driven to complete the task at hand that we often neglect to take a well-needed break. I find I'm often more of a 'Martha' than a 'Mary' (Luke 10:38-42).

We can easily forget that God Himself created rest and then modeled it for us by resting after He creating the universe.
A tired mind is often not a creative or imaginative mind. As writers and creative types, all that we do is fueled by our imagination. Many studies show we remain the most productive when we take time to recharge.

When we rest, and more to the point, when we rest in the Lord, there is something deeper at work. There is a soul rest that cannot be found anywhere else, but in the Lord. When we pause we gain clarity, focus, strength and renewed passion for our work and our lives. There’s a great spiritual and mental benefit in being intentional about allowing our attention to shift away from our work for a period of time. We find stress diminishing. For Christ followers, the point of rest is ultimately to grow closer to the Lord.

Exodus 33 and 34 are among my favorite portions of Scripture. In these passages The Lord reveals Himself to Moses in a special and powerful way. In Exodus 33:14 we read “The Lord replied, My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” To me that suggests that there is no greater rest, than in the Presence of the Lord.

Here are just a few things that help us in the activity of resting:

·         Take a walk in the park. Or the woods. I’ve been reading how nature can have a calming effect on us. As Christians we marvel at what God has created. This is a form of worship that brings us closer to the Creator while refreshing our spirit.
·         Meditate on Scripture. God’s Word has the ability to calm us, to give us hope, to inspire us, to discover more of God’s character. A number of years ago I took a long stroll the book of Psalms. I would read, meditate, and re-read the same passages for a day or two. Sometimes a whole chapter, other times just a handful of verses. My intention was to just take my time and linger.
·         Make a cup of tea. Even the simple act of brewing a cup of tea can cause us to slow down.
·         Enjoy some music. Personally I’ve found Phil Keaggy more restful than Demon Hunter. Worship music (of all genres) is a big part of my life. A steady diet of God focused music helps to keeps my attitude positive throughout the day. But often I also find that jazz from 1959 helps me to disconnect from the world and put a smile on my face.
·         Journal.  Just don’t let a journaling session lead to returning to complete that unfinished chapter in your current WIP.
·         Go to a museum. Or the zoo, or a botanical garden. Sometimes a radical change of scenery is just what we need to help us slow down.
·         Stetch. The simple act of stretching has many benefits. You can stretch sitting in your chair, or standing up. Google it!
·         Take a deep breath. This is also a great stress reliever and rushes fresh cool air to your brain to help wake you up and focus.

I Kings 19 relates the fascinating story of Elijah standing on a mountain before the Lord. There was hurricane-force wind, fire and an earthquake, yet according to Scripture God was not in any of those. He came to Elijah as a still small voice. Elijah responded to God’s voice by pouring out his heart to the Lord. And the Lord was faithful to respond and point him in the way that he should go.

How many of us need to hear that still small voice today?

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

So let’s make time to unplug, step back and relax! If rest is not in your routine, make it part of your day and week. There are triggers that can be part of our daily or weekly routine that can remind our body that it’s time for a rest.

How do you find time to rest, and what does that rest look like? A 15 minute coffee break? A day off? A full vacation?

Here are a few Bible verses for more study and reflection:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”  (Isaiah 30:15)
For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. (Jeremiah 31:25)
Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul finds rest in God, my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62:1)

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