In the year of 2009, our partner in business and best friend died of a sudden heart attack at the age 43. Why did he die so young? He didn’t get enough rest. Next week, I turn 43.
Are we the first generation to ignore rest? I’m sure the answer to that is no. Actually many Biblical scholars will tell you that they pinpoint the fall of the Israelites beginning with ignoring one of the Ten Commandments instructing them to rest one day a week, what they called the sabbath.
Today, I’d like to take a fresh unique look at this ancient practice in hopes we can put new lenses on an old topic.
Putting time aside for rest is a practice that is not foreign to any society since the beginning of man. Many religions promote this practice as essential for their followers claiming peace, hearing from God, and a calm mind being the result. But as much talk as there is on this topic, it is not played out in western society these days. With my friends early heart attack on my mind, I began my research looking at the physical impact of lack of rest.
Physical Impact of Lack of Rest
My grandma told me her joints are getting weaker, so I told her to roll them tighter.
Some of you got that one. Truthfully, none of us want to take on the pains of aging but research shows the best way to stay young is to rest often and fully. Lack of rest and sleep decreases productivity and is linked to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, mental health disorders, and blood disorders.
Rest seems to be God’s plan to heal our bodies. Any athlete will tell you rest is essential for physical training. Rest is needed for muscles to repair themselves and prevent injury.
When many people get tired, they quit. Often we push ourselves not realizing that the time off is what we need to accomplish our goals. Without it, we fatigue and give up!
Rest for The Mind
“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
What about our minds? Here we need a reality check. Look closely at the info graph below. Look at all of the up arrows meaning that our lives as Americans, are much busier than ever before!
Ask many of yesterday’s philosophers and they will tell you rest is essential for the mind. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” And Ovid, the Roman poet, said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Your mind requires rest.
Ask corporate leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for productivity. Forbes magazine recently wrote, “You can only work so hard and do so much in a day. Everybody needs to rest and recharge.” Your productivity requires rest.
Therefore, when it comes to ancient traditions of sabbath day rest, are you getting the quiet, rest, and sleep you need to be healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually? The answer for me was “no.”
My Personal Crisis From Lacking Sabbath Rest
After suffering for 2 years from panic attacks, I began taking the sabbath and other times of rest seriously.
I now value quiet for the brain, especially long periods of silence. (You tend to start valuing that after your 4th kid!) Before I experienced my first panic attack, I was happy. I was busy. My life was poured out for others and I enjoyed every minute of it. But, 6 months before the panic attack, the stress increased. Instead of finding rest, I pushed harder. I gave up the Sunday rest to teach others, attend gatherings, and then have meetings with leaders. I began calling Saturday my day of rest. But, this too was quickly filling up with kids activities and errands we needed to run. The only way I can explain it is that my brain went on overload. It started racing and couldn’t be quiet. I couldn’t make it stop no matter how many times I tried. It too me 2 years to overcome panic attacks in my life. I am now panic attack free for 8 months.
Rest For The Soul
What about the spiritual need for rest? Was the Sabbath intended for rest or activity? I am treading deep waters here so I will leave that question sitting unanswered. But, I desire to say that we tend to fill every moment with busyness even our spiritual pursuits are noisy. But, when does your soul find rest? To read more on this: Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1
“Thou hast made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine of Hippo
Rest and quiet are essential for spiritual growth. You can read every book on spirituality and memorize the Bible but without quiet rest, I believe you will not experience spiritual maturity. How can I be so certain? Beginning with the Ten Commandments to Jesus, who defined it for us, teaching that the sabbath day was a day of rest for the benefit of man (Matt. 2:27). If Jesus thinks its important for my betterment, than I do too.
What Keeps Us From A Rest Day A Week?
We are a society that does not value quiet and rest. We no longer believe that we need it or we think that this can be done later in life. The question we need to ask, in light of these glaring obvious issues, is what do I value more in my life than rest.
- Is it work? Is it getting the right promotion? Fear of looking lazy or demotion?
- Is it our children’s social life or activity schedule? We are in an endemic of busyness and our kids are the master of it. Think about that. We are guilted into managing a social book compared to a Hollywood star from the 70’s. Our kids “need” to be part of that athletic team with practices daily, music lessons that they hate, the book club to get them into Harvard and so on. Not to mention, the shopping and salon “needs” to keep them in the right groups. But, who is leading in these scenarios? The truth is that our lives are so independent that they function away from the family community to deliver what is “best.” Often led by our children themselves or the bar their peers have set.
- Or do we just hate quiet? Many of us are quick to fill the silence with music, TV, checking our phones. We try to avoid the silence. What do we fear? Are we afraid of how it will feel?
So when is your quiet? Hate to be cras, but the toilet use to be quiet until iphone. When you wake up? Or is it a race to begin the days activities or read the news?
That is why I write to you my friend. After losing a good friend and suffering myself, I have come to realize the physical consequences of ignoring the body’s need for rest.
What I Do To Get Sabbath Rest.
I want to share with you how I find the rest I need. My family has one day a week that we do little to nothing. This is usually Saturday but occasionally Sunday if the Saturday is busy hosting guests. We will stay home or get into nature. Ideally once a month but more often once every 3 months, I will take a getaway such as this:
I mentally wrote this blog last night at Nature Lodge where I spent 24 hours by myself in a cabin with no electricity. I had my Bible, my coffee, and listened. I would show you some beautiful pictures of my view but had to leave the phone at home with Marc (no self-discipline!) I have to be honest with you. I spent the first 4-5 hours just thinking. Thinking about this blog. Thinking about the people of East Cambodia and their needs, Thinking about my family. Between each thought came a prayer, “Lord please quiet my mind to hear you.” Finally, when my mind had emptied of all the ramblings, I felt quiet inside. My mind was done hashing out our busy week which I feel is important for it to do.
It was time to listen and talk. The beautiful dialogue from God as opposed to the monologue I had been practicing for weeks up till this break. What did he say to me? “Come to me more often. Wake up before the rug rats (He didn’t say rug rats, I’m just paraphrasing) wake each morning to be with me.” Now, if you follow my blog at all, you may be thinking “wait a minute, you said you always wake up early and spend an hour in meditation.” Which I would respond with, “well, you see, I slept in one day, then the next, then the next, and you get the picture.”
This is a reminder to you and to us. Friends and family, we love you and care about you. We care about your physical and spiritual growth. Make a plan today. Take the next step and share that plan with me. Then I can encourage you! What are you going to do about the need of a weekly rest day? Do you believe in the sabbath day? What should that day of the week look like for you?
To read more, this is an excellent article! The Lost Practice of Resting One Day Each Week