Stress and the Gift of Rest

Sometimes, God hides truth just beyond our view. We get to choose whether we’re going to complain that we can’t see what He’s doing, or we get to go an an adventure to seek it out.

That’s because God knows that for deep truth to sink in, we can’t be told, we have to be shown.

After five years of writing and seeking, I’m finally beginning to understand the deep truth of rest.

Stress is a Thief

Our world is in constant motion. Movement and information flood our lives faster than we can comprehend, and treading water feels like the responsible thing to do. We’ve become conditioned to believe that slowing down is lazy and irresponsible. If we rest, we’ll drown. So, we just keep swimming.

Emails. News. Coffee. Gym. Social Media. Breakfast. Appointments. Phone calls. Meetings. Deadlines. Laundry. Lunch. Play Dates. Sporting Events. Dinner. Sleep (maybe), then repeat.

I’ve lived in this mode for years. A place where my heart, my head, and my hands were constantly striving for what I desired. More action and more effort seemed to be the only way to accomplish what I truly wanted. The inner voices constantly urging, “If you work hard enough, then you can rest.”

But resting looked like binge watching Netflix or taking a vacation with my family while glued to my phone. Although I was ‘resting’, I was still stressed.

This way of life robbed my family of precious time and robbed me of peace. And that makes sense because stress is a thief.

But I’m learning that there is another way. That rest is possible, even in the midst of action.

A Proper View of Rest

Some refer to rest as physical sleep. For others, rest means the absence of action. While physical rest is important and while we must cultivate moments of stillness in our lives, can we learn to embrace a fresh definition of rest?

Rest isn’t the absence of action, it’s the absence of stress.

This is the epiphany I mentioned above. In short, rest isn’t something we have to work for, it’s something we choose. If we choose rest, we’re rejecting stress. Adversely, if we choose stress, we’re rejecting rest. This new perspective completely changed my capacity to experience rest.

For far too long, I thought that if I chose rest, I was neglecting responsibility and action. But I finally realized that most of my action was being fueled by anxiety, fear, and worry—things God didn’t want for my life. As a result, I wasn’t living from His peace. I had faith in God, but I was trusting in my own understanding to make it happen.

Letting go of my own understanding, trusting with all my heart, meant choosing rest.

The Gift of Rest

Rest isn’t something we have to earn—something we get to do at the end of the day. Rest is something we’ve been given—something we enter.

This is a powerful thought to consider. If rest isn’t something we work for, that means it’s a gift. God gave us rest, first by His example. Then by offering His Son. And finally, by filling us with His Spirit. We simply choose to enter it, or not.

Think of it this way…

What was God doing before He created the heavens and the earth?

He was resting.

What did God do after He saw that His creation was good?

He rested.

God is a constant state of rest—an outpouring of love. And Jesus was the perfect picture of this rest. He was a man, in perfect harmony with His Father, living from the rest He had been given. He spoke of this truth when He said, “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” In essence, Jesus is the conduit by which we experience the rest of the Father. That’s why, after His resurrection, he said, “My peace I give to you.”

And once we believe, we receive God’s Spirit—Holy Spirit—the Comforter. Holy Spirit is the absence of fear—a spirit of power, love, and self-control. This is the indwelling presence of God—our rest.

This dynamic gift of rest, from the Father, is ours to enter.

Wake Up

I believed in God for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that I choose to enter His rest.

This realization has been a profound awakening. Like experiencing life with a new set of eyes. And then it hit me, you can only wake up if you’ve been at rest. The awakening of our hearts is the result of our willingness to rest. Once we choose to enter God’s rest, He awakens us to this new life.  Rest is the catalyst to discover the life He’s created for you—your greatness.

Our best and truest self isn’t the self that’s competing for approval, the self that’s striving to achieve its goals, the self that’s stressing over the ‘How’. Our best and truest self—the real, authentic self—is the one that trusts in God’s approval, the one that lets God give the desires of the heart, and the one that lets God become the ‘How’.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that only when we stop swimming, will we realize that we can float. And in floating, we can truly trust in the One who calls us to walk on water.



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