On a personal quiet day last spring, I found myself wanting to escape the busy season I was in. As I drove myself to the retreat center, I felt desperate for rest. I opened a Bible I picked up at the retreat center and read the following:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:9-12
The notes in the margin encouraged me to substitute the word “rest” for “remain.” That so fit where I was. I spent some time meditating on God’s rest, and wondering if it was possible on a daily basis. What would that look like? Could I rest in him in the midst of active work? If I rested in his presence, would he replace my weariness with Life?
While I was there, I completely unplugged. I spent time with God, meditated on his word, took walks to the shore, journaled, took a nap, prayed. I let him give me real rest. I began to see that I’d been trying to juggle a lot of things in my own strength. Worse, I’d been trying to love others by my own efforts. That will only take me so far before I reach burnout. As I let go and accepted his rest, I felt the weight of all I’d been carrying slip away. The time with him was peaceful and precious. As I returned home, I felt he had shown me a new way to enter into work, by abiding in him and letting him order my day. He’s showing me how to live out of a more spacious place, by centering myself in him. If that’s my center, I can return to that place of rest, even in the midst of activity. God’s rest isn’t about taking a vacation as much as it is resting in his grace and power. It’s less about me replenishing my energies than it is an exchange of energy, my feeble efforts for all the peace God offers. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, from I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”
Today’s prayer practice: Meditate on Scripture
Meditate on the scripture from John above by reading it slowly and prayerfully, inviting God to speak. Replace the word “remain” with “rest.” How much do you need that rest? Take it with you into your day, reminding yourself that you abide in him and he in you. Ask for the grace to see that it’s possible to live out of his rest at all times. Pray to see others through his eyes as you go throughout your daily activities. Be attentive to ways he might give you opportunities to love someone else, all the while returning mentally to that place of rest and peace.