The Power of Rest
by Mary Southerland |
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
(Psalm 23:1-3, NIV)
Friend to Friend
For most of my adult life I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. The result has been exhaustion, burnout, and watered down living. God and I both knew that the façade I had so carefully erected was a spiritual monument to self-promotion and pride-filled goals.
I have always loved music and began taking piano lessons at the age of five. I will never forget that first piano lesson with Mrs. McKenzie, a very sweet, elderly woman who played the piano beautifully.
“Let’s get started,” Mrs. McKenzie said. I climbed up on the piano bench, waiting for her brilliant instruction to begin. She placed a bright red piano book in front of me and invited me to open it to the first page. I was disappointed to see only little black pictures.
Where was the music?
Mrs. McKenzie smiled as she patiently began to explain the musical symbols pictured in the book before me. I soon grew restless. “What’s the matter?” she asked. “I want to play the piano, please,” I sweetly responded. With a knowing smile, she said, “We’ll get to that.”
I was not happy.
On and on – for what seemed like hours, Mrs. McKenzie pointed to funny-shaped black symbols, named them and explained their meaning. I was not impressed. I just wanted to get my hands on that keyboard.
Sensing my impatience, Mrs. McKenzie pointed to one of the symbols on the page before me and said, “Mary, this small, black box is called a rest and is one of the most important symbols in music.” I simply did not care. It did nothing but sit on a page in useless and unproductive silence. I wanted music.
“Do you know why rests are so important in music?” Mrs. McKenzie persisted. Obviously, I had no clue. She then said something I remember to this day, “The music that comes after the rest is the most beautiful music of all.”
At the time, I did not understand the deeper meaning of those words, but life and time have illustrated their importance and their truth.
The best part of life comes after we rest in God.
The most beautiful service follows time at His feet.
Rest is a powerful part of our life song. Just as the rest in music prepares the listener for what comes next, time spent in rest is an invaluable time of preparation and restoration.
Yet, we often buy the enemy’s lie that to rest is a waste. The psalmist disagrees when he writes: He makes me to lie down in green pastures … He restores my soul… (Psalm 23:2-3). Now that word “makes” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to God’s work in and through us. If we refuse to rest, the Father will “make” us rest. The good news is that time spent in rest is the prelude of God’s restoration power.
For years, I filled every waking moment with activity. I lived by the principle that busy people are productive people. It was only after I crashed, spending two years in a pit of burnout and depression that I learned the eternal value of rest and stillness. This pivotal life lesson is stated in the simple words of a shepherd.
Psalm 23:2 “He leads me beside quiet waters.”
The psalmist writes this soothing promise from the perspective of a shepherd tending his flock of sheep. A good shepherd understands the truth that sheep are never fully at ease around rushing water because every sheep innately knows that the weight of their wool – when wet – will drown them. A wise shepherd understands that he must lead his sheep beside still waters, to a place of rest. The sheep only has to follow.
Today, make the commitment to carve out a daily time to spend in rest. Sit at His feet. Allow Him to restore, replenish and refocus your heart and mind. Then rise to serve Him and lead others to the quiet waters of rest.
Father, forgive me for the arrogance that keeps me on the run, trying to prove my worth. Teach me how to rest in You, Lord. Help me learn how to say “no” to those things that keep me from sitting at Your feet. Give me a hunger and thirst for You that can only be satisfied by time alone with You. I love You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Consider the following questions:
Why does it really mean to “be still before God”?
What “time thieves” do I need to eliminate from my schedule?
What long-term commitment do I need to make concerning rest?
What areas of my life seem to be out of control and need to be submitted to God?
Choose a time and place where you can rest.
Read Psalm 23 every day and record the benefits of rest in your life in your journal.