“…the Lord, their true place of rest, and the hope of their ancestors…”
My suitcase is still sitting in the middle of the living room. It’s not even unpacked yet and the hum of everything that needs to be done is rising inside me. I have been battling an emotion I can’t put my finger on all day.
It was not until I read this passage that I could name it: restlessness.
This surprises me because I just got back from vacation. I broke the routine, I went to a conference full of fresh information, I escaped with Cody to Seattle for the weekend and I thought I would come back feeling rested and whole and refreshed and ready to jump back in.
But I don’t.
I don’t. Because physical rest doesn’t solve everything. Fun does not necessarily fill the soul and interesting things don’t satisfy it. Our weekend held adventure and exploration and wonder (I will never get over jellyfish), but I did not carry it home with me breathless and reminiscent, as I often do.
Then, as I read about Israel’s true place of rest, I realized that I know this place. And the times I have come back from a break relaxed and emotionally ready for the world are the times when there was a good chunk of time set aside just to be with the Lord.
This trip, I did not build in time to linger with Him. I read quickly in the morning and rushed off to the next thing. I planned visits to Pikes Place, Puget Sound, Seattle Aquarium and the Garden of Glass, but I did not plan a visit to our true place of rest.
I did not build our schedule to accomodate pauses, reflection, still moments.
I did not plan a time to ask questions, to face angst, to listen, to savor His word like a dessert instead of gulping it down like breakfast-to-go; to ponder, when I would normally get to the point; to pay attention to Him and ignore the distractions.
Physical rest is no substitute for soul rest, and that’s why a change in physical location does not automatically send me back refreshed.
New scenery helps, because it doesn’t hold all those visual cues that normally call me away to my responsibilities and my waiting to do list. But I often see new locations only for the new sights and sounds and experiences they have to offer, and miss the potential they hold to slow down.
I miss the chance to stand still while nothing is demanded of me; to unload mental burdens and to unpack complex thoughts and to take in my Savior, unrushed. Anytime a vacation has held that, it’s been the highlight. The whole setting seems cast in warm hues, and I walk forward at ease because I have been to my true place of rest and that’s what He is like.
When I haven’t made it there, I can tell. Because physical restoration is no match for soul heaviness. A change of pace is not the same thing as emotional relief. And I find myself irritable, distracted and troubled over why my vacation isn’t working.
I can pack it chock full with exciting activities and relaxing settings, but it doesn’t come close to when there is just empty time to connect with Him. There, I find Him SO GOOD, so much better than all that I could have filled the time with.
The relief at the end of my to do list is nothing like the rest I experience when you tell me to set it aside. You are enough while my list is unfinished. So help me to lay it down long enough to see you.
You transform the way I look at my whole world, and even the vista from the top of the Space Needle pales next to the view through the rain-stained window I have right here.
A worry-free weekend, away from all my responsibilities is not as good as a worry-free Monday, right smack in the middle of them. Because I can learn to just breathe, take each step, and follow you through it, instead of serving the thousand fears and concerns that steal away my moments while I long for my next break.
You are the Good Shepherd and you make me lie down.
So help me lie down now.
On your bed, on your couch, on your floor, in your chair, at your desk, or just in your head. Lie. Down.
Lie still, Lie flat, don’t move, don’t rush, don’t accomplish, don’t impress.
For the next 5 minutes, take a soul-cation. Rest, because HE has done the work. He will carry out His work in you. You don’t have to hold all of life together. He holds it.
Lie down all that extra stuff you’re carrying. Unload on Him. (Psalm 55:22)
Lie down and stay there until those racing thoughts quiet and you can hear Him again.
Lie down because you’re allowed to! You are called to enter into rest. (Hebrews 4)
Lie down and enjoy the green pastures, the still waters, the breeze, the birds, the rain, deep breaths, the blank canvas behind your eyelids, the quiet musings that do not go unheard, that heart of yours that beats for a purpose beyond the ordinary.
You just had a vacation and you’re already dragging? Lie down.
You haven’t had a vacation and can’t even keep up long enough to plan one? Lie down.
Come to Me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Self, you don’t even need PTO to have it. Or a free weekend, or an escape, or a day without deadlines, meetings, small people who need you, and big people who are waiting on you. You don’t need plane tickets or a beach or a quiet forest because He is your true resting place and He is right here.
Lie down and listen.
Stand still and see.