We need rest.
Scripture teaches that we are dust (Gen. 3:19). Unlike God, we tire. We are finite creatures. We need sleep and refreshment. John Piper reminds us:
“Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God….Once a day God sense us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day.”
Rest teaches us about our limits and leads us to rely on God.
Rest and Refresh
Here are some ideas to try as you build a habit of rest:
- Disengage. Make a deliberate decision to stop work, even though there’s more work to do. The work will still be there when you’re done resting.
- Turn off the screens. Turn the phones, tablets, and computers off. We rarely feel recharged after spending time online, binging on Netflix, or watching television. If you spend a lot of time using technology, look for a low-tech way to recharge.
- Read a book. Find a book that you’d like to read for no practical reason, except that it brings you enjoyment.
- Go for a walk. Lace up your shoes, and explore your neighborhood.
- Play. Get a board game or a basketball and have some fun. In his book The Well-Played Life, Leonard Sweet writes, “The older we get, the more we need allowance and permission to play, and the more we need instruction on how to play.”
- Sleep. Take a nap, or go to bed early.
- Find a hobby. Think about a hobby that you used to enjoy, and try it again.
- Contact a friend. Spend some time on the phone. Even better, go out for coffee or some food.
Be careful of activities that look like rest, but don’t leave you feeling recharged.
For instance, Netflix and social media help us escape from work and responsibilities, but they don’t leave us feeling more alive. Pursue activities that awaken and refresh you. Examples may include walks, reading, sports, visiting with friends, or pursuing hobbies. Any action that is enjoyable and isn’t an obligation qualifies as rest. Theologian J.I. Packer advises us to “choose the leisure activities that bring us closest to God, to people, to beauty, and to all that ennobles.”
The key is to release yourself from all obligations and to find something that renews you. Start by doing this for a small amount of time each day. As you get better at rest, we encourage you to set a goal of one day of rest every week.
Resting a day a week is a big deal. It adds up to fifty-two days a year, or eleven years over the average lifespan. That seems like a lot of time to lose to rest.
Whether for a few minutes, a few hours, or an entire day, release yourself from all obligations. Play, recharge, connect with friends, enjoy God’s presence, and pursue activities that renew you.
Adapted from 8 Habits for Growth: A Simple Guide to Becoming More Like Christ by Darryl Dash (© 2021). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
Darryl Dash (@DashHouse) is pastor of Liberty Grace Church in Toronto and cofounder of Gospel for Life. He is a husband, father of two, and author of 8 Habits for Growth: A Simple Guide to Becoming More Like Christ.