In my first two years of teaching, I was also completing my Masters of Teaching so I didn’t really have a lot of ‘down time’. When I wasn’t teaching, I was preparing for teaching. When I wasn’t preparing, I was writing essays. When I wasn’t writing essays, I was reading things to prepare for those essays. And somewhere in between all of that I had to be an adult and do adult things like laundry, cooking and washing my hair – we’ve all been there right?

Then school holidays rolled around and, if I didn’t have an intensive for uni, I finally had time to ‘rest’.

Photo credit: Skitter Photo

I can honestly tell you that the first 3-5 days of my post-term ‘rest’ involved a large amount of sleeping, crying and not leaving my room or knowing what time of day it was, whilst also aware that in about a week or so a new term would start and we’d be back to square one. That was my ‘rest’.

This was neither healthy nor sustainable and in all honesty, this pattern started to scared me. But who had time to rest?* And even when there was time and I tried to stop, my brain would still be running through the to-do lists and worrying about all the things that would need to be done. I was tired, stressed and anxious.

Well if you’ve been journeying with me, you know that that didn’t end very well. So I committed the year of 2020 to a year of rest, a year of Sabbath.

Photo credit: Cotton Bro

The word Sabbath means ‘to rest from labour’ and in Jewish and Christian traditions refers to the day of rest1, a rest that was so important that it is the 4th commandment (see Exodus 20:8-11). Not only did the Jewish custom include a regular Sabbath (one out of every 7 days) but even Sabbath years (every 7th year) when there would be no planting or working of the land in order to allow it to rest.

I had previously tried to protect & prioritise my ‘Sabbath’. I thought I was protecting it when I would say no to things and shut myself up in my room and veg out watching Netflix. This was what I thought rest was – stopping all activities that drained me.

The description of a Sabbath year did not say that I had to make a fence around the land and never touch the land, or that I couldn’t eat things that naturally grew from it. Protecting your Sabbath shouldn’t mean shutting the world out and pretending it didn’t exist for 24 hours. So if not that, then what is rest in God’s eyes?

Photo credit: Ian Panelo

In the middle of 2020 I started reading the biography of James Hudson Taylor, a Christian missionary who did a lot of work in China in the 1800s. The biographer wrote that later in his career, Taylor struggled with feelings of dissatisfaction, frequent failure, disappointment and a struggle with his seeming lack of faith. It sounded to me like Taylor was burnt out, overloaded with the worries of his work and struggling to find his way out of it – I could relate.

Taylor described that what helped him overcome this period was a reminder of the rest we can have in Jesus, knowing who he is and how he wants us to live. He said:

The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realise this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the most difficult His grace is sufficient.

It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money, and brings me his purchases. So, if God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength?

No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! (emphasis added)

And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this springs from the believer’s oneness with Christ. And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been!

page 308, Taylor & Taylor, 1995

Suddenly I realised that to rest in Jesus did not mean that he would take away my burdens, give me more down time or magically give me the energy I needed to complete everything on my to-do list. To rest in Jesus was to know and trust that regardless of what task lay ahead, God would give me what I needed to see it through. By knowing and understanding who Jesus is, that he has already provided us with all that we could ever need, we can see that no task, list or deadline should ever compete with the importance of this fact.

Resting in God meant that I needed to understand my priorities in light of how God wanted me to live my life – in full trust of his provision.

To make time for a weekly Sabbath is a demonstration of my weekly trust in God providing for me. Committing a year to Sabbath, and not doing any paid work during this time, was a way for me to demonstrate my trust in God’s provision, come back to him and reorganise my priorities.

Photo credit: Pixabay

I am still learning how to fully rest in God but I can say that after a year of resting in him, I feel more peace and confidence in who I am and who God has made me to be. I have a greater sense of direction even when I don’t know what’s coming next. I am more excited about my work knowing that God has already made a way for me to see it through. I am less anxious about whether I will succeed or fail, trusting that God has a purpose for it all.

How do you find rest? Want to know more about the rest that God offers?

Leave me a comment or send me an email – I’d love to hear about your experiences!

*In writing this, I also acknowledge that there are times in our lives where we will have less time for physical rest and that we will need to soldier on. Working full-time and completing my Masters was one of those times. But more so, during this period I was lacking in spiritual and emotional rest because I did not understand how to trust God with these parts of my life.

Header image: Enrique Hoyos


2 thoughts on “Rest

  1. Pingback: Intern? – | abbi writes |

  2. Thanks Abbi. Great to read your meditation and learning to rest in Jesus. It seems only suffering pushes us to learn how to rest in Jesus more – lessons we all need to keep learning. May you be encouraged to keep resting during this ministry year. Love Janet


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