Please welcome Lisa Ackland Carriere, who is a new friend, ministry-focused writer, and college English educator. Lisa is currently working on a book about women in ministry entitled Divine Call: How Women Leaders Overcome Ministry Challenges. I appreciate what she has to say about work, rest, and prayer, and hope that you will too!
It’s counter-intuitive to rest during busy seasons, whatever work or other responsibilities we carry. Busy times appear to require the most activity from us, and in a way, that’s true.
However, I think the Bible teaches us to build rest times into our schedules. I’ve benefitted from this practice, which keeps me sane (and loving, I hope!) with those I serve. Also, it has humbled me when I see God working for me while I keep still.
I’d like to help you consider mini-rest times as part of your schedule, because during those times you will see God go to work for you.
First, let’s look at what Hebrews 4 states about rest:
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. (Hebrews 4:1-2)
Here, rest is pictured synonymously with the Gospel. Those who believe in the Gospel of grace– that Christ has done all our work for us, and there is nothing else we can do to be forgiven of our sin and know God—enter God’s rest. Those who don’t believe do not enter in. The Gospel is connected with rest, through which the blessings come. In resting, we enter into Christ’s work. In working without rest, we resist His way.
Why is this so important to God?
First, your “mini-rests” and your Sabbath rest point to your hope and faith in your eternal rest. These mini-rests build up to your Sabbath day of rest, and they all look ahead in preparation for your eventual divine rest in heaven.
Secondly, rest transforms our work schedules and our relationships with God and others. When I stop striving in the midst of my busy ministry schedule, I realize that I am trying to do the work that others are called to do. I even try to do God’s work at times—a humbling realization indeed. Through rest I learn to hear God’s heart, learn to see matters from God’s perspective and not just my own limited one.
Rest also changes our perspective for how much we are actually able to effect change. Work is a process of service that we offer. The results are up to God. Rest reminds us of that fact. And it is when we rest that we show our trust in God and not in our own work. Who goes to work then? God does, on our behalf.
Isn’t that one meaning of the Gospel?
This week, challenge yourself to start resting in your schedule the same way you’d begin anything: a little at a time. I’ve benefitted from the Benedictine way of pausing to pray throughout the day. But the rhythm of my day isn’t always like an abbey, where there are set tasks for each hour of the day.
Here are some ways in which I’ve inserted rest times into my week. This works for me, but you may have a very different rhythm to your life than I do. Ask the Spirit how you are to rest and find what works for you.
Some Ideas for Mini-Rest Times
- Upon awakening, I pray, lifting up the day to the Lord. Pressing concerns take top billing in this prayer! Like this one, my prayers throughout the day are short.
- Occasionally, once or twice during the day, I have longer times of prayer. I have a rug in my office on which I stretch, face-down, and pray out loud. That probably sounds strange, but it really diminishes distractions for me.
- Friday mornings are concentrated prayer times for the people I serve. If something arises, and that time won’t work, I choose a different time in the week. The thing here is to make your rest times work for you but not to eliminate them from your schedule.
- Occasionally, I go on silent retreat to an abbey. This one may take you out of your comfort zone by acquainting you with a different church. Yet, it will also expose you to other worship practices that you might use in your private worship.
- One woman I interviewed for my upcoming book has a friend in ministry who mentors her for a week at her California home while her children stay with her parents. Both ideas give rest primacy for a longer period of time.
Hebrews 4:11 states, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Ultimately, our rest is in heaven. We will rest from all our toil, realizing, once and for all, God has done all the work anyhow.