The Problem of Rest

written by Chris Hartenstein
We need to move, to be productive, to make a difference, to be impactful, to bear fruit, and to change the world in which we live. These are the phrases I hear when I wrestle with rest both in my own heart and with others.

Rest is that other “four-letter word” and it feels dirty. Why is that? Why do we struggle to rest?

I was raised that you work hard, give one hundred and ten percent and then you can rest both physically, but on the outcome of your hard work. The Bible and the world God created tell a different story. Let me recap…

- God made the first day of the week “a sabbath.” A day to rest from all the work we do. He even modeled this for us in Genesis 1!
- He then added honoring the sabbath to the Big Ten Commandments. (Ex. 20)
- He made the Jewish traditions of a day to start at sunset the night before at sunset and end before sundown the next day.  
- Jesus discussed that we need to “abide in the vine”, to do anything well. A direct reference to rest, relationship, and responsibility. (John 15)
- Jesus also stated the “sabbath was created for man” not the other way around. (Mark 2:27)
- The seasons of planting show the need to rest a field then make it productive.  

All His created order starts with REST and ends in WORK. We rest, get to be at our best, and then we engage. The Sabbath was a day to put first what was meant to be FIRST in human life, intimacy with Abba Father. The deep heart connection to Him that allows us to truly rest, to truly let go, and let down.

But what do we need to “receive” to rest? That’s the question we need to answer before we discuss how to rest. We always want to “do” something first, but let's look at our mindset. There are consistent truths we need to trust. Let's look at three:

- Enter rest as a beloved son or daughter of a good Dad. If I enter rest in this manner then I can see that I actually am “afforded” rest. We have a good Dad who wants us to be at our best, connected intimately with Him, and making an impact on the world He created us to make. He loves us enough to take care of things in our life, in our sphere of influence and responsibility so that we can rest. We must TRUST that He is offering us rest.    
- Productive vs Fruitful. (John 15) Making an impact is a big deal in our culture. It becomes a basis for worth and value. And yet Jesus never says…be productive. He says to bear fruit. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. We all know what it means to be productive, what does it mean to bear fruit? In Jesus' “abide” scenario. Fruit is an outcome of being close to himself and God, not simply hard work. It denotes us being WITH Him. Moving in sync, acting out of obedience. Ultimately we are MOST focused on closeness and connection to Jesus, not on the cause we think we are doing FOR him. Am I most devoted to relationships or responsibility?
- Last for this week…simply is that I am at my best when I am rested physically, emotionally, and mentally and connected spiritually to Jesus. PERIOD. That means rest is meant to be a priority and key to our heart health. We gotta have it. When we get fried, we are at our least, lowest place. Burnout never produces any good. So why do it?

So this begs the question, which of the three above truths do you most struggle to trust? Knowing and pressing into which (or maybe all three) will help transform your rhythms of rest.    

Next post we will discuss the “how”: ways in which we rest!  

Calibration:
- How do you define rest? Where does that come from?
- Do you feel you have to earn rest? Why?
- Do you get value and worth from being productive? Why? Where does that mindset come from?
- What has shifted in your thinking about rest after reading this? Why? What can you do to make one change in your rhythms this week to rest?

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