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.

The Lord Will Fight For You

Reflex Hammer

What do you do when you feel absolutely overwhelmed by life?  When you are trying to live a life of integrity, like I talked about yesterday, but attacks come from every side?  What do you do when, like David talks about in the Psalms, there are “those who speak evil against my life.”  How do you respond?

I know for me, the first thought is to strike back! Been there?  Yeah, I think it’s just our nature.  The question is whether or not that is the right thing, the noble thing, the godly thing…even the helpful thing.  I know that the times I have reacted have been the times that things have been the most chaotic and destructive.  Most of the time, I have to go back and apologize and hope for a mulligan.  The key, then, is not to react, but to respond.

A reaction is like being tapped below the knee cap, causing an involuntary, thoughtless jerk.  “Jerk” is probably a good word to describe us when we simply give a “knee-jerk” reaction to attacks and circumstances, isn’t it?

A response, on the other hand, implies calculation, thought, intentionality.  At least it does to me.  When I react, I lash out.  When I respond, I take the time to think it through and then conduct myself according to those plans.  It’s harder, but most definitely better.  In the end, it takes less time because I don’t have to go through all of the pain of fixing what I just made worse.

There are certainly times when a response may call for firmness and directness.  There are times when confrontation (even sometimes heated) is required.  However, this kind of exchange as a thoughtless reaction will hardly ever (if ever) provide satisfying results.

There are other times, though, when the best response is no response. Sometimes, people act in ways that are so ludicrous that it doesn’t even justify a response.  Attacks that are based on and built upon lies will not, in the end, stand.  Sure, they will hurt for a while and there may be some people who believe them, but fighting back just plays right into the hands of the Enemy.  Sometimes, the very best approach is to just sit still, place it in the hands of God and let Him deal with it as He wants to.  He’s big enough to do that, you know.

I was exploring this subject more in depth this morning and came across the following excerpt from a post by John Piper from way back in 1981.  It was an incredible encouragement to me.  Hopefully, it will be to you.  Let me know what you think on the subject.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. So Hezekiah gathered the people and the commanders together in the square at the gate. If you memorize what he said to them you will know the power of God in a new way. He said:

Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with them; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.

Then the writer adds, “And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7, 8).

I want it to be said of me, “The people took confidence from the words of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” That’s my goal: “the advancement and joy of your faith.” What is the “King of Assyria” in your life? Whatever it is, remember: “there is one greater with you than with him!” If you trust him, the LORD almighty is on your side and will fight your battles! “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:13, 14). (emphasis added)

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