God Wants to Do Your Work for You. So What Do You Need to Do? Rest.

Lisa_Ackland_CarrierePlease 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.

Consider “Mini-Rests”

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?

There are two rests: an earthly, Sabbath rest from our work, and a divine rest ultimately in heaven.

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.

What difference does it make for you to know that God is working even when you’re still? How do you build mini-rests into your day?

13 thoughts on “God Wants to Do Your Work for You. So What Do You Need to Do? Rest.

  1. Refreshing ideas!! “And it is when we rest that we show our trust is in God and not in our own work.” Wow! Isn’t that the truth. I know people of God that work tirelessly 7 days a week with no rest at all and are completely worn out, burnt out and exhausted. I advise them to rest, but they seem to believe that they “have to” do all this work. I was just reading about how good it is for our brain alone to take a short break from your work throughout your day, according to physiologist and sleep researcher, Nathan Kleitman. God made us so, of course, He knows we need this for our bodies, our spirit, and our minds. Praise God!

    1. I’m also struck by what Lisa says about trust–when we rest, we place our trust in God–and I would want to add that when we work, we also need to place our trust in God. For both rest and work, trust in God is key, for God has given both to us as gifts.

        1. Thanks for making that connection with science. It’s refreshing when it supports the Bible, isn’t it? I am saddened, however, that people think they have to work without rest. It seems to come from fear. We know that faith opposes fear. Many times I have both at the same time, but hopefully faith takes precedence!

          1. You are so right! I have noticed how often my response is out of fear rather than faith. I think I’ve grown a lot but like you, that fear is still present with the faith. I’m praying the Lord to stretch my faith.

  2. So right! I intentionally plan rest-time and sabbath-time into my weekly schedule. Not as much as I ought to, for sure. However, I try to make Thursday morning my time. And, yoga time. An hour and a half yoga class with my marvelous yoga teacher. She’s a recently-retired RN and hospice nurse, and focuses on the health and stretching benefits of yoga for the whole body. Personally, I focus on the meditative and restorative aspects of the practice.

    But–whatever way or practice each person finds, I absolutely agree–do it regularly! Here’s my post from last year, where I talk about how wonderful this is. Caring for Myself—As Well As Others http://wp.me/p4cOf8-5l

    1. Thanks for sharing – I didn’t realize that about your Thursday mornings, so how appropriate that this post was on a Thursday morning too! I love to work and give myself to the tasks that God has set before me, whether it’s writing an article or preaching a sermon or cleaning out the garage. And I love the sacred pauses–or mini-rests as Lisa calls them–that refresh me and remind me of God’s bigger picture beyond the tasks at hand. I’m thankful for both.

  3. Exercise can be restorative too– that’s an excellent point. I take walks at times, even slow jogs, in which I’m not training for anything. I don’t have an exercise goal in mind. The exercise is for my mind to connect with God while my physical self is engaged in repetitive motion. That’s one reason I don’t do aerobic classes– too much is going on for me to focus!

    1. Brittney, I always love your titles! They are provocative and make me want to read more, and I certainly will. Perhaps rest, or as you call it, silence with God, is born out of practice. In the beginning, you may feel awkward or even scared. Will God talk to me? Or am I just going to feel like I should be doing something more profitable with my time? And if He doesn’t talk to me, what does that say about my relationship with Him? To those people, I say, relax. He’s watching and listening to see if you really want to pursue Him or if this is just a spiritual fad. And you have to develop an inner spiritual ear to hear Him. Once He sees that you’re serious, He will communicate. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Thanks for sharing my post with your group– I am hopeful it will be useful for them!

    2. Thanks for your comment, Brittney, and for leaving a link to your site. I enjoyed browsing and read your post on “loosening the reins” and your summer sabbatical. This especially speaks to me: “The more I loosen the “shoulds and ought tos” on myself the more grace I can extend to others!” I appreciate that word of encouragement.

    1. I’m glad I’m tracking with you, Brenda. The practice is especially hard when much of our communication with others is in an electronic format (email, social media, etc.). But it is in those forms of communication where we often speed up mentally, flicking to the next post or email faster than our minds can absorb the information. I love what you say here about resisting those electronic communication forms after our time with the Lord. That practice produces a restful, quiet, unflappable spirit.

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