Rest: Sleep and so much more

I have to admit that I have a connotation in my mind, when I hear the word rest, I think sleep.  So when I read this verse,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NIV

my brain interprets it to mean that Jesus is waiting with arms wide open to scoop me up, comfort me and essentially rock me into a sweet refreshing nap.  That does sound so nice.  I think there are, in fact, times where that does happen.

I know very well that there are times where I just need a nap.  I know this because I can become uncannily like a young child throwing a temper tantrum.  I get emotional.  I get unreasonable.  The things I say and the things I do are illogical and exacerbated.  This is when the rest I need is sleep.

I find myself asking this morning if rest is more than that?

This morning I went about the hustle and bustle of getting my family & I ready for another day.  When everyone had left or had been delivered where they needed to be I found myself exhausted.  I needed to do my daily personal Bible study time.  With every word I seem to be drifting closer and closer to sleep.

One could argue that it was because I am currently reading in the book of Leviticus.  I am in the early chapters, reading the detailed accounts of offerings.  I think instead it is just my body saying, “whoa girl, give yourself a break”.  As I ended my prayer time it was as if God said, “allow My love to draw you into a time of rest today.”

So the next thing that I did was grabbed a book I am almost done with and headed off to my bed.  I set an alarm because I figured that rest must mean I was going to toss aside my to do list and God would bless me with a nap under my delightful electric blanket this cold, windy, January day in Minnesota.  I had my book just in case I needed something to keep me still until I dozed off.

I crawled in and made myself cozy on my pillows.  I few deep breaths and I started reading.

Then the craziest thing happened.  The chapter in my book was all about encouragement!  This is a book on change, so I was not anticipating this.  I was expecting more along the lines of 5 types of resistance to change and how to over come it, but encouragement.  My favorite!  Talk about something near and dear to my heart.

Nine short pages later, I’m back out of bed and ready to tackle those looming things on my to do list.

Wait…no nap?

No nap.

I thought rest equaled nap?

There must be other definitions to rest that I could use a refresher on.

I found two interesting definitions on

  1. relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
  2. mental or spiritual calm; tranquillity

Now I can completely see why I was feeling rested after no sleeping.  That opportunity to read about encouragement, to develop a gift that I have, did bring relief and freedom from the giant list of other things that I need to do today.  It also helped cool my mind, which earlier was bubbling over like a boiling pot with this, that and the other thing that I have to catch up on.

I guess this is just another one of those times where I sit here and think, “God, this just is not what I was expecting”.  I believe God hears me think or utter those words with great frequency.

I do have to smile to myself because this statement was quickly followed by, “God, I am still ready to set all of this aside for that nap if you want me to.”

Are you in need of some REST today?

What kind of rest does God want you to find in your day?

Is He holding His arms open, blanket in hand, ready to rock you to sleep?

Does He have still water to lead you by so that you can calm your mind and release your worries for a while?

What is holding your day captive that God can help you to find freedom from, taking the chains and weight off your shoulder?

Pray.  If you are feeling weary and burdened, tell the Lord about it.  He is ready whenever you are.  He wants to give you rest.

Beloved and dearest Lord,

Over and over again I need to be reminded that You do not work by my plan or expectations.  Instead, You have something even greater and more glorious in store.  You are so wonderful to provide so many options for rest, restoration and refreshment.  You are so good, so talented and so creative God.  I praise You for it!

Lord, I lift up to You my burdened readers, those who are laden with the strains and stresses of our broken world.  I pray for the ones who feel like they are about to fall.  I pray for the ones who feel like they are deep in pit.  I pray for the ones who feel so constrained that even breathing is a challenge.  I pray for those whose hurt and pain overwhelms them.  

Please, Lord, design some time of rest by the artistry of Your hand.  Make it fit whatever definition of rest that they are in greatest need of.  May it bring restoration, renewal and freedom.  May it all bring sweet glories to Your name.

In Jesus’ Holy name, amen. 


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