The Art of Rest.
Verse two is a beautiful picture of rest and refreshment. We find peace and refreshment when we rest in God. There were times when David was tired and weary. It is at these times he paints with the written word a lovely image of the rest that the Lord provided for him.
Like David, we can lie down in the green pastures of tranquillity and be led beside still waters of refreshment. In a place of peace and quiet, there is no trouble or turmoil. It is a place where we can just let go of the busyness of the day and enjoy an undisturbed breather. This rest space in the green pastures of tranquillity and beside still waters offers you an even flow and calmness. So, when things get too hectic; when your body needs replenishing; when the soul needs rest, come by the still waters and lie in the green pastures in God’s love.
The Lord knows just what it takes to lead you to a peaceful place to rest in tranquillity and calmness, so let yourself be led there. You cannot help yourself or others to your full potential if you are tired and weary. Sometimes you may feel guilty when resting because of your busy schedule so you feel the need to get on with things.
As humans, we are so adapted to the hustle and bustle of life and have lost the art of rest. I know a lot of people who have retired but have not retired in their minds and heart. This is excellent, on one level, because we need a reason to get out of bed in the morning and have something to look forward to on a new day. It’s lovely to learn new things and accept new challenges that stretch us and make us grow. However, for many people, their mind is still in employment mode, so they just find it challenging to stop and cannot allow themselves to rest.
I know a lovely couple who are in their mid-80s. They have been retired for many years. Betty says that she feels guilty when she sits down in the afternoon. She doesn’t get out of the house much because her mind and heart are still in work mode with the many chores in the house. Is it any wonder that she had a massive heart attack and now is pumped up on medications that have a lot of side effects?
The family doctor told her that her condition is due to stress. The stress was caused by a lack of rest, putting great strain on her heart, and causing it to fail.
Then there’s Mary, a pastor’s wife who I knew many years ago. Mary had young children to run after so would get little rest. Mary was always busy, both at home and church and she never gave herself a day off or did anything that gave her pleasure. If she wasn’t working at home, or at her paid employment, she was working in the Church to support her pastor husband. Sadly Mary suffered a debilitating stroke at 34 years of age. When she received her diagnosis, it revealed that it was high-stress levels causing her blood pressure to rocket, which in turn caused the stroke. She literally wore herself out!
Now meet Max, who after retirement wanted to take up running and other healthy pursuits. However, into his retirement, he continued to stick to a work schedule to give him a structure for his day. The schedule was 12 hours in duration- after all, he was home and could work longer hours because he didn’t waste time traveling. Max accomplished more in a day at home than she ever did in the office which had a limited working time frame. He always said that he wanted to wear out and not rust out. So, Max created for himself a tight daily schedule that exceeded the one while employed. In the end, Max was putting upon himself a heavy workload and was so busy that he could not fit in his much-wanted running program.
Then one day, Max on the spur of the moment without any preparation, decided to do a vigorous run. Max reasoned that he had to start sometime, so he geared up in running shoes and shorts, Max did not have a lot of time to spare, so without warming up, and taking things slow, he ran flat out to reach his goal. Max was found dead on the pavement. The coroner said that he had a massive heart attack due to great strain on his heart. Max didn’t take the time to ease himself into gentle exercise until his body adjusted to it. For Max, it was his first run and his last.
I could share much more with you, but the thing is, what all these people have in common is that they abused their bodies by refusing to take rest and or relaxation. These dear folk had to get stuff done and we’re always in a hurry to achieve the end result. We need to realize and accept, and indeed enjoy that work, as well as rest, pleasure, enjoyment, and refreshment, are gifts from God.
Jesus Christ did not come to start a new religion; he came to show us a new way of living. Religion, or our idea of religion, can drive us to the point where we can’t enjoy life anymore because we are exhausted. Jesus doesn’t drive us but leads us, and there is a big difference between the two. When one drives, they are behind pushing forward. When one leads, they walk ahead paving the way forward. When a person leads, they see the dangers ahead and clear them for you to pass, keeping you safe.
On the other hand, when you are driven, you encounter dangers head-on and suffer for it. Our Shepherd leads, rather than drives. Religion drives us, but Jesus leads us into a new way of living in a peaceful resting place.
It’s worth thinking that when we allow ourselves to be led by God, it does not mean we abrogate responsibility.
We have a duty to nurture our own well-being. We are holistic beings, which means we are body, mind, and soul. We must learn self-nourishment on all levels. It doesn’t seem to come naturally for many of us, we need to pause and think about it.
We need to change our mindset by educating ourselves about how to consciously replenish ourselves. In so doing, we replenish our creative selves. Julia Cameron, who wrote the Artist Way, calls this filling the well, it is only you who can fill your well..
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