The Gift of Rest
by Amy Schmitz Ruiz
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for He grants sleep to those He loves.” –Psalm 127:2
A few weeks ago I wrote a devotional about getting out of the boat of security and comfort to walk on the water with God’s help; or in other words, to take risks to do those things we know God is calling us to do. In that devotion, I challenged others to join me in some water-walking, but I want to be honest with you all about one of the key difficulties I have found in stepping out of the boat. Busyness is a real hurdle to overcome in our fast-paced culture. At times, it keeps us distracted from prioritizing God’s best for us.
It seems that we wear busyness like a badge as we try to show our self-importance, believing that the world will fall apart if we don’t have our hands on every detail. I know this is a wrong way of thinking, but I still easily succumb to being involved in far too many activities…to a point that it is preventing me from focusing on other things I trust God would prefer me to do. It isn’t like the things I am doing are bad. In fact, many of them are necessary; but finding balance and boundaries can be hard for me. I find myself going to bed late and waking up early, all the while feeling tired and not accomplishing things that are truly valuable to my life and well-being.
I found conviction and a push to change in Psalm 127:2 where we read, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for He grants sleep to those He loves” (NIV). Obviously overworking and staying distracted with many things is not God’s desire for us. In the Good News Translation of this verse it says, “For the Lord provides for those He loves, while they are asleep.” Look at that! We can trust God to be working while we sleep. We actually find productivity in our rest when we are walking with our God who loves us. Actually, the verse right before this gives us some great insight as well: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain” (Ps. 127:1). I might add that unless God sets our schedule, we busy ourselves in vain. So, we have a promise of rest, and knowledge that God will work for us during that time, but we also need to surrender everything to the One who can make all things work together for our good.
Along those lines, I recently read an article by Mark Ballenger entitled, “3 Signs God Is Saying, ‘You’re Doing Too Much’” that included these guidelines:
- If you know what you should be doing but you don’t have the time or energy to do it, this is a sign God is saying you’re doing too much.
- If your current obligations are causing you to miss golden opportunities, this is a sign God could be telling you that you are doing too much.
- If busyness is pulling you away from the presence of Christ, this is a sign He’s saying you are doing too much.
I’m now asking God what His priorities are for my life and my days. Sometimes that means even taking a nap or saying no to something I’d really like to do. Working hard is important, but when it pulls us away from staying connected and present with God, this is a sign that we are doing too much. Only by the Spirit can we lay aside every weight that so easily entangles us. When the Spirit fills us, we will then need to take practical steps to make our lives focused on what God wants us to focus on and cut out the busyness.
Dear God, Thank You for loving us so much that You desire to give us the gift of rest. Help us to listen to You and find our priorities in You. Help us to cut out the unnecessary distractions and tasks that keep us weighed down and prevent us from doing Your will. Thank You for walking with us through each day. Amen!