Let’s not make any assumptions here.
Even though I write about life to the full and all that jazz, don’t think for a moment that I’ve got my act together.
Not even close.
I’m better than I was ten years ago, sure. But I’ve still got miles to go before I sleep.
Rest for Over-achievers
I wrote recently about how in my 30s I was an Energizer Bunny, always on the go and busy doing the next thing. I was Pinteresting before Pinterest was even a thing.
Simply because of the aging process, I’ve been forced to slow down physically. My body doesn’t have the stamina or strength or resilience it once did. But I’d be lying if I said my mind has slowed down, too.
My thoughts still zoom by at 100 miles an hour. The wheels are always turning, and sometimes there are huge traffic pileups in my brain that leave me bewildered and depleted. I’ve been dealing with just such a tangle of thoughts lately and it drives me nuts.
Worry, frustration, fear. . . emotions coming from nowhere, accompanied by constant threads and tangents inside my brain that frazzle me. It’s hard to know how to stop and just be still.
Two years ago my “word for the year” was “rest.” It was much needed. Life had reached a breaking point. All the dealings and goings-on with our former church, with my son’s autism, and with the anxiety that resulted left me feeling battered, torn, and unable to lift my head.
I had to teach myself how to physically rest again after years of never stopping.
So eventually (with the help of my aging body) I learned how to sit still, how to stop doing, how to rest and relax. It’s possible I might’ve learned this lesson too well.
But my mind. . . well, that’s a different story.
I’m always working at solutions. Trying to come up with a new path, a different approach, a fresh idea. Like I said: wheels always turning.
And just this morning, after a few days of doing battle with the constant barrage of thoughts, I discover this gem of a verse:
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.’” Isaiah 30:15 NLT
That part about “you would have none of it.” Yikes, that’s me.
The Hebrew word used there is “abah” which means “to breathe after.” As in, to long for, to be willing, to want something really bad.
So in other words, rest for the soul and yes, even for the mind, is available. It’s found in returning to God, in trusting Him, in being still before Him. . . but I have to “breathe after” it. I have to want it. I have to long for it and be willing to pursue it.
Rest doesn’t just happen.
- It requires a turning.
- It requires intention.
- It requires a longing, a desire, a “breathing after.”
Like the psalmist’s image of a deer panting for water. It’s like waiting for your big glass of iced tea when the chips and salsa are already on the table. Your mouth is on fire and you might just die if you don’t get a big gulp of that tea and soon!
When I consider the image of the panting deer and compare it with my desire for rest, I don’t see any similarities.
I don’t long for rest. I don’t “breathe after” it. I don’t pant for it like I pant for my glass of iced tea.
Because secretly, at some subconscious level, I take pleasure and pride at trying to control my own thoughts. I like fixing things. I’ve fooled myself into thinking that all the solutions are there at my disposal, in the neurons firing off within my brain.
And I am wrong.
No wonder I feel like I can’t get a break.
How to Get the Rest Your Soul Needs
So this is a new revelation for me, a chance to do things differently, an opportunity to let go. To place confidence in the true Problem Solver, to lay those thoughts and anxieties down on the table and walk away. And like everything with God, it’s gonna mean resolving to do it repeatedly until it becomes habitual. A spiritual discipline.
That’s my prayer today. And it’s my prayer for you, too.
Because I know I’m not the only one with tangled thoughts, anxieties and worries. I’m not the only Charlie Brown out there who’s afraid of everything.
There’s rest available for the weary. But we’ve gotta want it.
And we’ve got to set that junk down and let God deal with it.
Only then can we experience true rest. Are you ready?