Rest is a topic that Christian women are not talking enough about. In fact, we tend to glorify busy. We glorify perfection, and doing more, and sometimes we even glorify a too full messy life over a more restful life. Today we are going to dive into what rest means from a Biblical perspective and why it’s so important for the Christian women today.
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Physical Warning Signs of Lack of Rest
“Just as running too fast round the track will eventually result in physical problems, so running the race of life at too fast a pace will have physical consequences. Over 70 percent of Americans experience stress-induced symptoms such as headaches, stomach cramps, sore joints, back pain, ulcers, breathlessness, bad skin, an irritable bowel, chest pain, and palpitations. I certainly had some of these symptoms, and I also remember many female patients who came to me with multiple and varied bodily pains for which no physical explantation could be found, no matter how many tests and scans they had. Their lives were simply too fast and full for their bodies and minds. It’s called “burnout” for a reason: All the stress causes chronic inflammation, a sort of fire in our cells that burns all the hotter, further, and longer the more fuel we add to it with our hectic lifestyles. Feeling tired, exhausted, and lethargic all the time are early warning signs that should be heeded.” – Refreshed, page 26
PUSHING ourselves too hard:
“We are not only creatures; we are complicated creatures. We have not only incredibly complex bodies but also remarkably intricate souls. And when you put these together in one person, you have multiplied complications as each part interacts with the others. That was one of the key areas I forgot. I was pushing myself physically in many different ways. God has blessed me with a strong will, and when I decided to get something done, I just kept pushing until it was accomplished.
“Yes, at times I could tell that such determined pushing was taking a toll on my body but I ailed to see that it was also taking a toll on my mind and my soul. I seemed to think that I could push and exhaust the physical part of me, and the mental, emotional and spiritual parts would be unaffected. I was not seeing myself as God has made me – a limited creature and complex creature. I was not only underestimating my limitations but underestimating the impact of an exhausted body on my mind and my soul. And I’m not talking here about exceptional times in life when we have to push ourselves much harder, such as when facing exams, work deadlines, or nursing babies. I’m talking about this becoming the norm, the default, for extended periods of time. Verses such as Phil 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – do not override our basic need to eat, drink, and sleep.” – Refreshed, page 39.
I’ve found in my life, that knowing I need to rest more, isn’t the same as truly believing it. And I’ve found that my inability to rest was very much tied up in feeling like I needed to do ALL THE THINGS all of the time. This is still something I can struggle with time to time, but by God’s Grace I’ve come a long way.
Here are some truths to keep in mind when we are struggling with this Biblical concept of REST:
Stop striving – your worth is in Christ
“A grace-paced life? What’s this? It’s a pace of life that’s constantly refreshed by five different wells of divine grace. First, there’s the motivating well of grace. We used to be driven by money, family perfection, beauty, careers, or earning God’s favor. But instead of filling and fulfilling us, these motivations drained and dried us. Now though, we daily drop our bucket list into the unsearchable depths of God’s saving grace in Christ to freely receive his overflowing mercy and love. Filled to overflowing with gospel grace, we are now energized and enthused to serve him at home, at work, at church, as our heart beats, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” – Refreshed, page 12.
2. Stop striving to be perfect – Christ is enough
“Second there’s the moderating well of grace. Grace moderates our expectations of ourselves and others. At the foot of the cross we have seen our sin and our sinfulness. We have learned that we are not perfect and never will be. Therefore, when we fall and fail, we don’t torment or torture ourselves. Instead, we calmly take our sins to Calvary knowing that God’s grace forgives us all our imperfections and lovingly accepts us as perfect in Christ. We don’t need to serve, sacrifice, or suffer our way to human or divine approval, because Christ has already served, scarified, and suffered for us. His perfection moderates our perfectionism as we remind ourselves, “Accepted, accepted, accepted.” – Refreshed, page 12.
3. Stop striving in vain – Christ will multiply your efforts
“Third, we are refreshed by the multiplying well of grace. We no longer believe that everything depends on us and our efforts. Rather, we trust God to multiply our few loaves and fishes. We don’t sit back and do nothing, but neither do we try and do everything. We sow and water, but we realize that it’s God who gives the increase. God’s blessing multiplies our work in a way that no amount of extra hours or effort can. How calming and soothing is this realization and the prayer it produces: “Multiply, multiply, multiply.” – Refreshed, page 12.
“Fourth, the releasing well of grace helps us to hand control of our lives over to God. We trust his sovereignty not just in salvation but in every area of life. Yes, we still work diligently and carefully, but releasing grace humbly submits to setbacks, problems, and disappointments, accepting them as tests of our trust in God’s control. When tempted to micromanaging and dictate our lives and the lives of others, we drop our bucket into this refreshing well as we whisper to ourselves, “Release, release, release.” – Refreshed, page 12.
“Finally, there’s the receiving well of grace, which closer inspection reveals to be made up of a number of smaller wells. Each of them represents one of God’s gracious gifts to his needy creatures: a weekly Sabbath, sleep, physical exercise, family and friends, Christian fellowship, and so on. In our fast-paced life we used to push these gifts away, thinking that we didn’t need them. But in the grace-paced life, we approach these wells saying, “Receive, receive, receive.” The more and more we see that our heavenly Father designed and drilled these wells for our good, the more we receive and enjoy their renewing and refreshing waters.” – Refreshed, page 12.
Why we make time for REST:
“Every Christian wants to know God more; few Christians fight for the silence required to know him.”
In the next episode we are going to get more practical, what does true REST look like in our lives and how can we fight for that rest?
Links & Resources:
- Book recommendation: Refreshed by Shona Murray (The men’s version is called Reset)
- You can listen to my interview with Shona Murray here
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