Get Some Rest

get some rest

Hey you. Yes you. The one who is always available to help. The one who always assumes a leadership role. The one who is periodically on the verge of burning out but feels bad about taking time off. God wants you to sit down somewhere.

Church culture often reminds us that “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” It is quite common for us to experience an abundance of work being done by a handful of people. Being overwhelmed for the work of the Kingdom is to be expected. If you have grown up in a Church setting, or if you’re just a common Type A person, we often grow accustomed to the feeling of being overwhelmed by tasks. So much so, that we sometimes don’t feel validated in the work that we’re doing unless we’re stressed out and on the brink of nervous breakdown.

Some would have us believe that feeling of having too much on your plate is a feeling we should strive toward. That if there’s work to do and it must get done, YOU must be the one to do it and you must do it without complaint even to the point that it can be frowned upon to request a moment of solitude. While it is true that there will always be work to do and that there will always seem to be a shortage of people doing it, the idea that we should always be eager to take on more than we may be able to bear can be dangerous to our mental and physical health and, quite frankly, is not what is pleasing to God.

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

The above verse is taken from a text in which Jesus and the disciples had been traveling and working hard to win souls for Christ. Jesus saw the work they were all doing and noticed that they were overwhelmed so he tells them to go take some quiet time to rest. As simple as that is, this is what is pleasing to God. We all have so much work to do and the work will always need to be done by someone. While it is certainly God’s will that we do the work and that we excited about it, we are only human and humans get tired. We should never be ashamed to admit that we may have overextended ourselves and need a moment to recharge.

My prayer for all of us is that we commit to the following things:

  1. Be mindful of our minds and bodies when they tell us we need a break.
  2. Say no and be intentional about it. You don’t always have to be responsible for every single task available. If you feel like you will not be able to handle too many tasks, you can decline a few responsibilities to save your sanity.
  3. Hold your brothers and sisters accountable. When you see that someone you love has a lot on their plate, offer to help when you can so that they can take time to themselves and help them to feel good about doing so.
  4. Get some rest. Whether it be taking a vacation to enjoy your friends or family, or taking quiet time alone, we all need time to replenish ourselves after we have give time and service to others.

Just as Jesus was divine he was also human. If he had to take time to rest, so should you.

 

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40 Days of Dust

take

Today is Ash Wednesday.

In the Christian faith, this is the beginning of preparing ourselves to observe Easter as the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days of prayer and fasting known as Lent. We fast following the example of Christ when he was lead into the wilderness to fast and to be tempted by Satan. Basically, this entire observance is a time when we reflect on the death and the resurrection of Christ and imitate the things he did leading up to his death in order to prepare himself for the HUGE task of ushering us into salvation.

So, on Ash Wednesday, people go to service to have their heads smudged with ashes, traditionally, from burned palms from last year’s Palm Sunday service which is the service before Easter. Ashes appear in the bible many times as a symbol of mourning, consecration, and even a blessing. It’s customary that those observing Ash Wednesday, receive a smudge of ashes on their foreheads accompanied by a blessing from a clergy member. Now, I’m no bible scholar so pretty much all the things I’ve learned about this holiday are mostly things I’ve read and cross referenced. While researching the actual ritual of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, a particular thing stood out to me that is very relevant to our condition as Christians who are triggered by the idea of not being in complete control of life’s happenings.

As a person receives ashes, they may hear the words, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return.” It’s in reference to the above verse. That verse helped to put my worries into perspective for two reasons:

  1. I am a fully functioning being, fully composed of what will decompose when my spirit has left my body. I’m literally made of the makings of dirt. How amazing is it that God designed a person as complex as I am and as you are from what he found lying around (figuratively speaking). That’s encouraging to me because there are so many times when I get hung up on not being able to make things happen the way I want them to happen completely overlooking the fact that God is able to make great things come from absolutely nothing.
  2. My physical body came from the Earth and will return back to it. As amazing and as great as God has created me to be, it’s inevitable that what I see looking at me in the mirror will one day be nothing again. Every time I get beside myself with how well I’m able to maintain control over the things God has given me power over, I have to remind myself to be humble. Just as quickly as someone can admire my shiny accomplishment and accolades, I can return to dust and be forgotten and reduced to nothing if I’m not doing things for God’s glory.

So while we’re observing this period of fasting, let’s be mindful of the the attitude we maintain. While we’re experiencing the discomfort of the thing we’ve removed from our daily life for the next 40 days, let’s remember to remain humble in recognition of our position as servants to God and to Each other.  In the absence of the thing or things we’re fasting, take time to remind ourselves who gives our vessels of flesh and dust purpose. For the next 40 days, let’s get our dust in check.  I pray we all end our 40 days with a new sense of submission and purpose.