For years, I mistook “checking out of reality” for “rest.” To relax, I would binge-watch Netflix or SportsCenter for an entire afternoon or play video games until that pesky homework from my philosophy class could no longer be avoided. Unfortunately, this never once made me feel rested. In my experience, checking out leads only to a numbing of pain and fatigue from the previous workweek, not to true healing or a fuller, more meaningful life.
Resting literally means to be still, to cease from work, or to be held still in a single spot by another object. I find the last part of the definition to be the most fitting with regards to what it means for the Christian to rest. We are held still by something (or rather someone)—the God of the universe.
I knew there had to be a better way to find true rest, and I discovered it in the Christian discipline of biblical meditation. I’d always associated meditation with the Far East, but as the writer of Psalms 1 says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (vv. 1-2).
Checking out leads only to a numbing of pain and fatigue from the previous workweek, not to true healing or a fuller, more meaningful life.
So I began to meditate on the Word of God and the thoughts of great men of faith. It was water to my thirsty soul. I would often ask questions of verses that had long lost their luster and find a new, more beautiful, and rich understanding of what I thought had become trite. Sitting still while allowing my mind to dwell on the things of God brought true rest to my soul.
I discovered that there was another, less conventional way to rest, too. If you’re like me, you sit at a desk for 40-plus hours a week at your job. I’ve found that in order to rest, one of the things I need most is activity. It sounds strange, but it’s true. That’s why the Valentine family takes frequent walks through the park. As my body moves, I find things that were pent up in my heart slowly begin to trickle out. On a few occasions, I’ve broken down in tears during a walk, because God was using the physical release of energy to free my soul from something I hadn’t previously acknowledged. The truth is that we were made to move. If we haven’t been active all week, our bodies are probably filled with angst. It’s in those moments that we need to get up, get out, and find God amid His creation.
As my wife and I have explored what it means to rest, we’ve been reminded of Christ’s words: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). That’s why we ask ourselves, each other, and God, “How do we need to rest this particular day?” Sometimes we just go for a walk. Other days we sit and contemplate the nature of God and existence. And sometimes we do both. It’s not how we seek Sabbath but why that matters.
By resting, we embrace the fact that God has everything under control. We don’t need to work seven days a week, because we trust that God will provide. When we rest, we remind ourselves to enjoy the life He’s given us. So whether you’re called to rest on a Sunday or another day of the week, don’t simply check out of reality to numb yourself for a few scant hours. Instead, embrace the God of the universe for an entire day—not only will you find rest in the One who loves you, but you’ll also discover a life bursting at the seams with energy.