31 Days: Rest in the Beginning

image credit: morguefile.com

I’m reading a book at the moment by Alan Fadling called An unhurried life: following Jesus’ rhythms of life and work. I’d already chosen Rhythm of Rest as my topic and title for the Write 31 Days challenge well before I came across the book. So it feels like a gift, a confirmation.

I was familiar with the concept of a day starting with evening (“And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.” Genesis 1:5 ), but I hadn’t noticed that because Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day, the first day they really experienced was a day of rest.

God rested on the seventh day. So Adam and Eve started life with rest.
We tend to think of resting at the end of the week (our weekend) – if we think of resting at all.

But what if we’ve got it backwards? What if rest is supposed to come first? What if we were designed to function from a place of rest, rather than earning rest as a reward for our hard work, or as enforced recovery time when we’re sick or exhausted?

What if we saw rest as a gift? Something that propels us forward with life and energy?

As Fadling puts it:

We tend to see rest as the place we fall into after we’ve worn ourselves out with work. But what if our best work begins from a place of rest? What if rest takes first priority rather than last?

So what about it? If rest takes the first priority, what does that look like?

Well it might start to look a little like this…

When I got ready for work this morning I had five minutes before I neede to leave. Instead of rushing for an earlier bus or squeezing in some other activity, I set an egg timer in the kitchen (I still needed to catch the bus) and I sat in a chair in my lounge room. Solitude and silence with God for five minutes. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) it can be hard to sit still and do “nothing.” But those five minutes felt like seconds, and when it was time to go I was still craving more. Those five minutes set the tone for my day.

And now it’s the end of the day … Or perhaps really the beginning of the next day. So I’m going to publish this post and make sleep my priority.

Sleep well and I’ll meet you back here tomorrow.

The Rhythm of Rest

This is Day 2 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).

Valuing a Fallow Season

In March this year, I had the opportunity to go away for the weekend with some good friends. We were staying in a house near the beach, and we’d spent Saturday walking along the beach, visiting a weekend market, lunching from the fabulous bakery, relaxing on the sand chatting and reading, wandering through secondhand bookstores. Late in the afternoon we were chilling out on the lounge. The shadows were lengthening, birds were singing outside, and Sting was crooning in the background. It was blissfully relaxing.

Only 24 hours earlier I was rushing around the house trying to make sure everything was organised for the weekend away.  Why does everything seem to take so much longer when you’re in a hurry?  Life was really busy.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to change gears and relax into the moment, but I was amazed at how much difference it made to take myself out of my normal environment and activities, even for a day or two.  I also realised how rarely I actually do that. I’d like to say that I learned the lesson and started to be more intentional about taking time out to relax, be refreshed, and enjoy some simple pleasures with friends. But … I didn’t. Life continued to be busy, and often stressful, and like someone caught in a swift flowing river I was being carried downstream.

In July I blogged about the change of seasons in life. What I didn’t realise at the time was the type of season I was heading into. To continue the river analogy, by August, I’d hit the rocks. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was feeling bruised and battered.  The re-occurrence of a previous back problem also meant that I was spending a lot of time lying down, resting my back and trying to manage the pain.  I’d been there before and I had no desire for a tedious return visit.  I wanted to get on with other things in my life, so I found it hard to embrace the opportunity to rest. Recovery can be a frustratingly slow process.

But what I’m just coming to appreciate is that I haven’t missed the change of season, I just didn’t recognise it at first. In an agricultural context, farmland that has been ploughed and left unseeded for at least one season is described as ‘fallow’. A fallow season allows the land to rest and restore its productivity.

For me this is like a fallow season. Aha – a light bulb moment!

I’m definitely feeling a little ‘ploughed’ at present, but I’m also learning to be grateful for this season of rest. So it’s not exactly a 5-star resort holiday, but it’s the rest I need if I’m going to be productive in the next season. And I’m looking forward to that.

Image: Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the Middle of the Mess

Have you ever had a good friend show up at your door unexpectedly, when you’re in the middle of a mess, unprepared for visitors, and it turns out to be just what you needed at the time? I had one of those moments today with God.

I was in a frenzy at work, searching for an important item, and unable to locate it. I was on the verge of getting seriously worked up about it, thinking I had misplaced the item during my frenetic activity of the previous day.

It finally occurred to me that I should pray about it instead of hitting the panic button. After all, God knew where the item was, so it made sense to ask Him. Why does prayer often seem to be the last resort we turn to instead of the first?

I hadn’t done much more than say “Lord I need your help”, when I felt him say, “Stop, and listen to me.”  Easier said than done, as I discovered. When I’m anxious about something or feeling driven by deadlines or outcomes, stopping seems so unproductive, even when it may actually be the best thing to do.

But when I did stop and listen, I was prompted with a place to look. And suddenly, the lost was found.

I find it so easy to be caught up in the busy-ness of life and unintentionally exclude God from what I’m doing. I’m grateful that he showed up in my mess like a good friend at my door, and sorted me out. It encourages me to look for more opportunities to connect with God throughout the day, to listen for his wisdom and guidance  … even before I get myself into a mess.

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net