Daniel co-wrote this article with his wife, Nicole.
The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
With my routine over the last few months, rest has extremely hard to come by. Between caring for a new baby and my job at the busiest time of the year, it seems I can barely catch my breath, let alone recover from one hectic day before the next one begins. Even when I have not had to wake up to give Isaac a bottle in the middle of the night, or I actually get two stretches of decent sleep, I still tend to feel exhausted during the week. My mind is trying to focus on the next things that need to be done, both at home and at work, which causes stress. And when I manage to clear a slate of tasks, I usually have no energy left.
Being truly at rest requires a physical and mental equilibrium in which your body, mind and heart can all relax. With constant burden in our lives, this is very difficult to achieve for more than a few brief moments at a time. To get complete relief on a consistent basis, we need to consistently seek the presence of God. The challenge is to do this regularly, rather than on an as-needed basis, as it is all too easy to do. To be free of burden, we must continually cry out to God, confessing to and seeking refuge in Him. When He becomes our routine, His presence accompanies us, giving us the true relief we desire. This is well emphasized in the refrain of the hymn “Like A River Glorious”:
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
When we find perfect peace and rest, we also find ourselves being made whole again. If we truly rest over the weekend, per se, we will face Monday at work with renewed energy and won’t feel that the week is a burden. If we can rest in the Lord, we can gain an even more restful and positive situation in our times of busy-ness. Of course, that is always easier said than done, but it is still achievable. The Israelites were commanded in the wilderness to “remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). I think that was meant for us to remember to deliberately set aside time for ourselves. Not only was it to rest, but to help us maintain positive attitudes in our everyday tasks.
Part of staying positive also has very much to do with rest. I don’t know about you, but I have to work on keeping a sunny disposition. Between work and our son, finding time to rest seems almost like a game of hide-and-seek. We have to sneak rest in when Isaac has gone to sleep, and on Saturday mornings. Sometimes we miss it almost entirely. But at the same time, we can always find rest when we remember to pray.
We’ve just entered the season of Advent, and that also comes with all of the classic Christmas movies. One of our favorites is White Christmas. In the middle of the film, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sing a song about counting blessings:
When I’m tired and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. Then I’ll fall asleep, counting my blessings!
Sometimes, finding rest comes at the very end of the day. It might be in the form of sleep, or it could be in reading a good book, or it might be going to the gym and running five miles. Any way you do it, you have the possibility of finding rest, whether it’s late at night, early in the morning, or somewhere in between. And if we willingly seek the Lord, He is always there, providing blessings too numerous to count.