The pace of life is faster. Transport is faster. Communication is faster. This means we should have more time to rest but the opposite is happening. There is a war for our attention and yet we do not seem to be able to focus. Best-selling author and journalist Johann Hari, in his 2022 published book Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, examines several factors for the pace increase and lack of attention. These factors include digital accessibility—everything you need is at your fingertips—poor diet, pollution, societal expectations. People are crying out for rest but don’t know how to break the cycle.
Jesus promises rest and a time to reflect: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it’” (Isaiah 30:15 NIV).
Do we want the rest that Jesus gives? Jesus has conquered earth’s major challenges of evil and death (1 Corinthians 15:5-58). Jesus gives forgiveness and life (John 10:10; 1 John 1:9). The by-product of that life is rest. Rest that can be incorporated into your life’s routine. Here are some of the ways that we may be able to find rest.
Rest each day. Our bodies have rhythms—times when we are more alert and times when we are more relaxed. As much as possible pay attention to these rhythms. There are times when you can focus more easily—do the important things then. Do the less important things at the other times. Setting time aside to pray and reflect on Scripture or your place in the universe will add value to life (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 143:5). My grandfather used to take a 20-minute nap early afternoons when he was weary. You can sometimes find me flat on my back on my office floor for the same period. Adding variety to your day—talk to someone without your mobile device with you—can give you a break and rest.
Rest in sleep. Sleep specialists suggest we need between 7 and 9 hours sleep each day for optimal wellbeing. To enjoy sleep more, we should have a regular bedtime, avoid late and big meals before sleep, avoid stimulants before sleep, exercise during the day so you are tired, and use water inside and outside the body—it helps us to rest and relax. (Information from ELIA Wellness Discover Whole-Person Health: eliawellness.com/programs)
Rest each week. God gave humans the gift of the Sabbath—it’s the highlight of the seven-day weekly cycle (Genesis 2:2,3; Mark 2:27,28). This is a day to stop working and doing the regular things that captivate your attention and focus on God, community, family, friends and the natural environment (Exodus 20:8-11). I’m so pleased that there are many in our Church sharing the Sabbath Gift on social media, with brochures and books this year: sabbathgift.info. As a Church we want to be known as people who value rest: we are human beings not human doings. Being means taking time to stop and explore and enjoy all that is around us.
Rest each month. Have an extra day each month to enjoy an activity that you do not usually do—gardening, cycling, motorbiking, hang gliding, deep sea-diving, camping, fishing, painting, playing music, serving at an aged care home or soup kitchen . . . or just taking it easy.
Rest each year. Plan at least one holiday or vacation each year to get away from the usual places, work and routine. Visit new places or spend time with people you like but rarely see. Come back with photos and a story to tell—however it may be difficult to get someone to listen because they have too much to do!
Ask Jesus how we can incorporate rest into our lives. He has given us power, love and self-control to be able to do it (2 Timothy 1:7).