THREE Ways to EFFECTIVELY Rest

By J. A. Hart
Tell me. Did I get you? I bet I did…

Because I lied. That was click-bait. This article isn’t about three ways to have “effective” rest.

It’s a nice thought, though, right? Effective rest. Unfortunately, there isn’t a formula for rest (if you find one, you’d be a potential millionaire), but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to rest. The truth is, you can find rest that is way better than “effective.”

You can have intimate rest.

Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”

Sweet, what does that look like? Here’s a story:

My adventure with rest began in junior high when my parents introduced “sabbath” into our rhythms. Each Sunday, we spent a few hours without any work or electronics, and we were encouraged to spend time alone with God. At first, I hated it. Boredom took my time, and I more often than not spent time twiddling my thumbs, which led to a lot of vegging. I did this for the first year or so. I can’t put my finger on when the change occurred, but at some point over that year, I didn’t mind the time alone. I even might’ve *gulp* enjoyed it.

I think part of the shift was needed. At the time, I was engaging in a pretty intense fight for my heart. The battle pushed me to press into my relationship with God. I spent a lot of Sundays trying to figure out how to rest, but It felt fickle. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel rested at the end of my Sabbath time. It took time, but as I pressed into intimacy with Abba, I realized what he meant when he said, “Come to me…”

He isn’t being ironic or lofty; he’s speaking literally.

Rest looks different for all of us, but Abba created us to live in intimacy with him; he created us to go to him! This shift in my mindset took time. I renewed my mind often, and eventually, I followed Abba into three ways my heart finds intimate rest (the title wasn’t COMPLETELY misleading):

 Journaling

I started journaling when I was around thirteen. My journal is not a diary or a list of goals or performance-driven ideas; my journals are books of prayer and stories.

The stories I write tell of Abba’s good works in my life. They tell of the intimate moments I have with him, moments where he came through for me, spoke words into my heart that I desperately needed,  or just spent time with me. I love writing his stories down.

The other part of my journaling time includes writing prayers. Sometimes I write in prose and other times in poetry, but it’s a big part of my intimacy with Abba. I love talking to him.

 Remembering

I journal because I want to remember. Journaling is useless without any intentional practice of going back and reading what I wrote. It’s like never re-reading your favorite books. The stories I wrote in my journal are the adventures I live with my Abba. They are the best stories  because they are HIS stories and words. It’s similar to the amazing experiences you have with your family or friends. When you get together, do you not tell the stories of your past adventures together?

If you study the Hebrew traditions, you will find they practice feasts of remembrance. These feasts marked anniversaries of important historical moments when YHWH showed his love and goodness toward them.

Daily I will go back to my recent entries and read them, and every year, usually around Christmas, I read past journals to prepare my heart for the upcoming year. When I do this, I rest in his greater story and words. I remember what is true and align my heart and actions to them. Honestly, it’s one of the only things that keeps me sane at times.

 Stories

 I love stories. If you’ve met me, you know this. I am a chatterbox about books, movies, songs, etc. I love it all. Ever since I was a wee lad, stories have spoken to my heart in deep ways. As I’ve grown, Abba has shown me how to open my heart to his voice in story.

What I mean is this, when I engage in a story, I open my heart to his voice. Usually, a particular instance or character will stick out to me. I take whatever it is to my Abba and ask him to reveal why it impacts my heart. When I ask, as my Abba, he is more than willing to unveil.

This has led me to understand a language Abba uses to communicate with my heart. As I walk through my day, I often take questions I have to him. In response, He often brings stories to mind to help me understand his heart (many times it’s even the stories I’ve written in my journal). When I trust in his heart, I find rest.

***

Notice: all of these practices of rest are built around intimacy with Abba. Some of them are disciplines, but intimacy is built with intentionality. I know the things I mention above are forms of “doing,” yet, they are rooted in “being” with Abba. They are about intimacy, not impact.

Anything you do for impact won’t give you rest. Anytime impact is the “why” of your actions, intimacy morphs into interaction. I tried doing a lot of things, thinking they were restful, but I wasn’t trying to be with Abba. I was asking for him to give me rest while I did what I wanted instead of asking him to lead me into rest his way.

Remember,  “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”

***

Abba wants to lead you to rest. He knows what you need. The three ways that I rest are great, but they may not be the destination your Abba is leading you to.  We find true rest as we intentionally engage in a relationship with our Abba, and the best part, this intimate rest isn’t confined to one day a week. You can have this EVERY DAY, so what are you waiting for? Go to him!

Calibration:

Step into intimate rest this week. Go to Abba, spend time with him, and ask him to lead you into rest.

Pray this every day this week:

Abba, lead me to rest in you. I desire your moment by moment daily rest; I want to be intimate with you, learning you and how you have created me. Show me who you created me to be, and how that relates to rest and intimacy with you. Search me and know me. Lead me away from my need to impact others and into intimate rest with you. I love you. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Spend 15 min in silence; listen for Abba’s response. Posture your hands out, facing up to receive your father’s heart.

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