Saving Daylight, Part 3: Rest

ImageI want to finish this week of posts about “Saving Daylight” with some thoughts on rest.  Friday is my day off; my day of rest.  It’s the day that I have that I can get away from work, unplug “completely” and spend some time re-charging my batteries.  So, as I write this, I’m kicked back with a cup of my home-roasted coffee, enjoying the sunshine and listening to chirping birds, welcoming in the springtime weather.

Now, I said “completely” in that way because there are times when situations arise that require my action or presence.  That’s part of my job and is expected.  Nevertheless, this is generally a day I protect fiercely.

What about you?  Do you have time that is just YOURS?  I wholeheartedly believe that if you are going to be the best you can be at what you do, you must master rest.

I didn’t always believe that.  There was a time when I didn’t need rest.  OK, there was a time when I didn’t know I needed rest.  I could go 24…alright, maybe 21/7.  Rest was highly over-rated.  That all came to a screeching halt when I ended up in the CCU of a hospital with stressed-induced atrial fibrillation.  After that, I learned to build rest or “sabbath-time” into my life.  I practiced stress-management that kept me from getting to “that place” again.

Stress is like carbon monoxide: it’s deadly and odorless.  You don’t always see it coming because it doesn’t always manifest itself in ways that you can detect until it’s too late.  You don’t always get headaches or visible fatigue.  Sometimes you do but you’re just too busy to notice them!  So what do you do?

Build in TIME

Point number 6 in Part 1 of this little series was the importance of finding and maintaining balance.  That doesn’t happen unless you value rest.  There must be down-time to help you set aside the busy-ness of life and evaluate where you are…and maybe WHO you are!  The biggest excuse I hear for not doing this is a lack of time.  It didn’t take me long to realize spending three days in a hospital was a great waste of my time.  If I can build in time of rest in order to prevent that kind of a waste of time, I’ll do it.  More importantly, if resting can make me a better person while I’m doing all the necessary things in my life, I’ll do it.  The question is, “How?”

Yearly, weekly and daily

Most people get a week or two off each year for vacation.  Take it!  I’m amazed at how many people I talk to who haven’t taken advantage of their vacation time, sometimes in years!

Yearly, we need to take at least a few days away for a sort of sabbatical, giving the mind a chance to completely re-energize and re-focus.  Even if you can’t afford to travel somewhere, take a stay-cation and at least unplug for a while.  The world really will continue to turn and you will be better in your world for it.

Now, some use their vacation time for mission trips.  Am I saying you shouldn’t do that?  Absolutely not!  What I’m saying is you need time away from what you normally do.  There may be no better way for you to re-charge than to change up the pace of what you are doing and spend a week serving people who desperately need it.  I think that’s great and can be exactly what you need.  I would go further and recommend, if it’s possible, to include the entire family.

ImageSecondly, we need weekly time off.  It’s the way you were designed.  Scripture tells us that God created the world in six days and that on the seventh day He rested.  Here’s a news flash for you: God didn’t need it.  He doesn’t get tired.  He rested in order to lead by example; to demonstrate to us something that He values.  He built us with that need.  Work hard during your week, but take a day of sabbath time to re-charge.  For some, like me, that can’t be Sunday.  I am not a legal Sabbatarian, as some are.  I believe we have been freed from the requirements of the Law with its limitations, but very much embrace the principle of what God was teaching us: Our bodies are not designed to work for seven days…REST!

Finally, we need daily rest.  Not only do we need enough sleep (which is probably my Achilles heel!), but we also need breaks during the day.  Sometimes, it’s too easy to get into the groove and work from morning until night without thinking about it.  Take a breather.

Start in the morning.  Build in time to sit quietly, to reflect on Scripture and to pray.  Ask the Spirit to empower you throughout the day and make you as productive as you can be in a way that honors Christ.  Psalm 46:10 instructs us to “Be still and know that I am God.”  I think that’s another reason God told us to build in rest.  How often I fail to reflect on or “remember” that He is God when I get so busy.

I believe it’s also important to stop for 10 or 15 minutes every few hours to completely change channels.  Take a walk or put the legs up and take a power nap. If you’ve got time, spend it on a hobby or, if you don’t have time, visit some of your favorite websites about your hobby.  I will often do that because it’s a way for me to “engage” in those things that bring me relaxation when I have more time.

Don’t waste your rest

ImageThere are times when we really do need to just “veg”.  However, I want to wrap this up by encouraging you not to waste your rest.  Your time, even your rest time, is still valuable.  Find some things that give you rest while still serve a productive role in your overall development.  Read a good book, play a sport, play with your kids (which time with your family should be a priority anyway) or go for a run.  Try to make the time you spend in front of the tube a very minimum.  We all enjoy it from time to time, but we have to remember, we will never get that time back.  So, ask whether or not that is something worth giving away your valuable time to.

Whatever you do, rest is a valuable part of it.  Saving daylight is not about burning the midnight oil, but about redeeming our limited time, living intentionally and saving us from burnout.