It’s clear that we all need rest

Where has our summer gone?

For me, it seemed to gallop rapidly along from one busy and full day to the next.

About mid-summer, I realized that, unless we put some specific vacation plans in place, we’d soon find ourselves marching into fall with its shorter days and crisp nights, all the while looking back over our shoulders with regret.

After some searching, we managed to locate a cottage with one week open at the end of August — amazingly, our adult children’s schedules were also open that week, so we booked it immediately. As the weeks continued whizzing by, my sense of anticipation grew, and, on pressure-filled days, I found myself “smiling on the inside” as I imagined the special family times we would have together.

Though there were some preliminary suggestions as to how to spend our time, such as visiting Presque Isle’s lighthouses or the local ice cream shop or renting a pontoon to tour Grand Lake, when it came right down to it, no one wanted to leave the peaceful cottage setting.

We had a spectacular view of Black Bass Bay and enjoyed the beautiful sunrises unexpectedly punctuated by a neighborhood rooster’s comical crowing. Our small fishing boat, paddle boats, canoe and blow-up rafts were in continual use as young and old alike explored the lake and nearby island for pirates and buried treasure, attempted to catch fish, and simply had a rollicking, wonderful week together.

Fires were built, marshmallows were roasted, and a 7-year old master jokester kept us laughing hysterically — all this beneath dark, star-studded skies wrapped in the overarching sense of rest. Each one of my family has expressed in one way or another how needed that cottage time was.

Rest. In simple definition, it is to cease from work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Experiencing rest is to experience peace, ease, or refreshment.

Health professionals tell us that “rest is vital for better mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress, improved mood and even a better metabolism.” An active mind gets tired just like an active body — rest is vital to repair and rebuild both our mind and our body.

It is clear that we human beings need rest.

It is also clear that the overarching sense in our society is not one of rest.

Instead, we often find ourselves rushing through life in a continual internal high-gear mode, weighed down by anxiety, stress-filled and weary, while frequently trying to get by on too few hours of sleep.

We live on a road that connects to U.S.-23, and, frequently, though there was ample time for me to enter the traffic flow and pick up speed without hindering the oncoming cars, drivers seem compelled to pass. They may do so on a curve, with its restricted view of oncoming traffic, or gamble over how much time they have to accelerate and return to their lane before oncoming traffic arrives.

Time after time, I watch drivers try to gain a few minutes of commute time on the short drive to Alpena only to arrive at the first stop light with them idling just in front of me or even in the lane beside me. I can’t help but wonder to myself, “What did you gain? Was it worth the risk and stress?”

I have been working on slowing down and practicing rest, on focusing upon the important things and being present in the moment, and on more fully appreciating my surroundings and the people in my life.

I’ve learned to ask myself things like: Is this task mine to take on? Is this problem mine to solve? Is this something that God has assigned to me? I say “yes” when appropriate, but also give myself permission to say “no” when needed.

In addition to the physical and emotional need for rest, we need spiritual rest. It is vital.

God not only established the practice of rest, but He designed us to rest. The Bible mentions rest 548 times.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken (Psalm 62:1-2).”

“This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls (Jeremiah 6:16).”

And this personal invitation from Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).”

Michelle Smith serves alongside her husband, Gary, as part of the leadership team of New Life Christian Fellowship. She founded Purely Women Ministries with the purpose of helping women of all ages discover their true identity as women of God. She can be reached at michelle@newlifealpena.org.


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