Chasing rest

Chasing rest

Written on 02/27/2020
J.M. Bergman

Written by J.M. Bergman

How many people know that rush of adrenaline from a powerful worship service? When the music is pumping, people are dancing, and God’s presence is so real?

You go home and the feeling lasts a day or two. But then the silence begins to feel empty again. So, you attend more events, get more involved, connect, connect, connect.

This is all good. But what about rest? What about stillness? Be still and know…

In this digital age of literally constant connection, where and when do young people find time to be still? In my early twenties, I chased a deeper relationship with God. It was like a sprint—non-stop, never looking back. Worship teams, youth ministries, outreach, prayer team, etc, etc. I literally only stopped to sleep at night. 

Why? Because like some may understand, silence just reminded me of my weaknesses. It was where I wrestled with unresolved shame and guilt. How could I feel weak when I served a powerful God? Add that to my growing list of perceived failures. My journey came to a smashing halt in 2015 when I finally collapsed and was hospitalized for over a week. 

Fibromyalgia, they said. A debilitating chronic condition. There is no cure. 

What did this mean for my ministry, career, and relationships? I lost everything I thought I was. Everything I’d been striving to be. What a waste, I thought. But here’s the crazy thing—looking back five years later, this was the best thing that could have happened to me!

Why? Because I am finding rest. 

In John 10:30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” And He lived an example of how we can enter that oneness too. 

Numerous times in the Gospels we read about Jesus slipping away for peace and solitude to be close to Father God. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed,” (Mark 1:35). See also Matthew 14:23, Luke 9:18, or John 7:10, when Jesus walked from Galilee to Jerusalem by himself—a five-day journey of solitude!

How long does is take to send a text? To check social feeds? Sure, ten minutes can’t hurt—but how about when everyone in your contact list needs to talk? Don’t get me wrong, God speaks through these opportunities. But what happens when we don’t stop to take care of our own spiritual needs? 

Hebrews 4:1 says, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.”

Further, we read that the good news is “that God has prepared this rest” since the beginning of the world. Hebrews 4:10 says, “For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.”

How long did God rest? Twenty-four hours! Imagine what our world would look like if we embraced that rest! So, where do we start?

With Jesus. With humility, goodness, and kindness. In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

The Greek word for rest is anapausis, meaning refreshment.

Our world desperately needs this! You’ve probably heard that our physical bodies heal while we sleep at night. Likewise, our minds heal when we intentionally provide a place to rest. Find ways to encourage rest and solitude in the life entrusted to you. Prayer walks, alone time, unplugging for an evening, Bible journaling, prophetic art, Scripture meditation. Create stillness and know God.

Back to my journey with fibromyalgia. I am currently homebound by pain—but I am finally waking up to the power of sincere intimacy with God. Even though the darkness is deeper than I could have ever imagined, “Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord! The Sovereign Lord is my strength!” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or imagine!” (Ephesians 3:20).