Appreciating the Value of Rest

by Cory Mansfield, SermonSearch Staff

Hey there! How are you doing? Wait. Don’t answer that. Let me guess…you’re busy. Ha! Isn’t that the answer we give anyone who asks us how we are or how we’ve been? “Oh I’m great, just been real busy lately.” Maybe it’s a stamp of maturity. Maybe it shows our importance. Maybe people will be wowed by our busyness.
Or maybe, just maybe, we could improve our awareness of time. And quite possibly, we could improve our understanding on the value of rest. Don’t get me wrong, as a pastor, I know you have quite a few things on your plate. Sermons to prepare. Books to study. People to disciple. Witnessing to the lost. Hospitals to visit. Budget meetings to attend. Planning meetings to attend. Planning the planning meetings before going to the planning meetings. Weddings to officiate. Funerals to attend. The list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on. So what’s the solution? Could the solution be more hours in the day? Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of Life.Church points out that a key issue is that we are just not being honest with ourselves.
But let’s be honest with ourselves.
What if God suddenly said, “I’m giving you one extra hour a day? You now have twenty-five hours in a day?” Or better yet, what if he decided to give us an eighth day of the week — which amounts to over three extra hours each day? How would you spend that time? Would you use it for an afternoon nap or to get caught up on last month’s expense report at the office? Would you use it for a meaningful conversation with your spouse or to get the oil changed (finally — only a thousand miles overdue) on your car? Extra prayer and reflection time with God or online surfing for the best deal on that flight for Thanksgiving?
I suspect most of us would spend our new 25/8 time catching up on chores, doing more work, or finding long-lost grade school classmates on Facebook. Would you really spend a solid hour in meaningful conversation with your aging grandma or teenage son? Despite good intentions, I’m as likely as the next person to try to get caught up in all the areas where my life seems to be spilling over around the edges.
The Answer isn’t more time but a greater awareness of the time we have.
It’s like a car with wheels that aren’t aligned. It always pulls to one side. If you don’t constantly fight it, that little tug will drag you right off the road. And the constant battle to keep the vehicle within the lines becomes exhausting. No one wants to drive very far when they’re out of alignment.
The culture we live in is forever pulling us off center — go faster, work harder, stay busy. If we don’t fight it, we’re not only headed for the ditch. We’re back on the wide road with everybody else.
So the answer is not to simply have more hours in our days. The answer lies much deeper than that. It’s to have an awareness of our time and using it for the things that matter most in our lives.
Can you even imagine your life where you have time for the important and not the urgent?
When one of your kids is talking to you, do you give them your undivided attention? Or are you also thinking about what to pick up for dinner or the deadline at work tomorrow? When someone interrupts you in the hall at the office, are you glad to talk to them? Or are you annoyed? (Maybe that depends on the person.)
Do you have time to rest?
No, I mean really rest — an uninterrupted night’s sleep, a quiet morning over a cup of coffee as you watch it rain, a stroll along the beach as the waves erase your footprints? When’s the last time you got to relax? Do you ever just sit and reflect on your life — without watching the clock, setting the alarm on your iPhone, or becoming distracted by the laundry waiting to be folded?
When you’re with the people you love, do you connect intimately and enjoy each other? Or do you exchange essential information (“I thought you already paid the American Express bill!” “Did you stop at the cleaners?” “What time is practice?”) that often leads to tension or an outright fight? Do you have plenty of quality time with the Creator of this universe — the one who made you — so that all the other things fall into place? Or are you set on “normal” and usually lacking time for what’s most important?
I don’t know about you, but I know those words hit me where I’m at. I sense the struggle between the urgent and the important. I don’t know that I take that time to truly rest. But how valuable and powerful rest is in our lives.
Make your own list: What things are most important to you right now?
We’re reminded in James that our time in this life is short and sweet: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (4:14). Every day is a gift from God, so we must always ask ourselves whether it’s wise to invest our time in the latest demand. You’ll have dozens of opportunities, and therefore decisions, every day. Just because opportunities present themselves doesn’t mean you should accept every one of them. It’s not realistic, and it’s also not wise. Often instead of asking, “Is this right or wrong?” or “Will I enjoy this or not?” we need to ask, “Is this wise in light of my desire to stay grounded in what matters most to me and to God?”
How do you stay grounded in the present by scheduling wisely? You must have the courage to say no. You have to start saying no to good things so you’ll be able to say yes to the best things. Too many good things quickly become the enemy of the best things. God calls us to think about time differently from the way most people regard it. We can stay engaged in today, aware of what’s most important, or we can lose the present moment like water through our hands. Don’t think like everyone else. Don’t be afraid to be weird for being wise. 
So Pastor, while I know your life is busy, let’s fight the good fight to keep our use of time in check and under control. Let’s push when we need to push, but let’s ensure that we have time to rest in God and focus on those things that are precious and important in our lives. I dare say that the times of working hard will benefit from our times of resting wisely.


Posted in Leadership