I debated for days. Which color: red, blue, orange, black or ice?
I settled on orange. A bold choice for me. But this was a statement making purchase — my first Personal Data Assistant (PDA) in the form of an orange-colored Handspring Visor.
While nearly 20 years ago, I recall the joy of wielding the tiny stylus and tapping a greenish-gray screen to make to-do lists, move tasks between lists, schedule appointments, and set alarms. It was such nerdy fun graduating from a Franklin Planner to a battery-powered palm-sized gadget.
Achievement, organization, and administration are threaded into my DNA. If there was a society for over-achieving list-makers, I’d be in the hall of fame. I find deep satisfaction in getting things done.
Whether task lists elicit joy or anxiety, we all have things to do. Many of us describe our lives as busy, maybe crazy busy (or just crazy) as we squeeze activities into the smallest cracks in our schedules. And in this holiday season, activity is at maximum capacity as we add shopping, cooking, wrapping, traveling, gathering, celebrating, and feasting. But whether it’s during this festive season or in the midst of a ‘normal’ week, we may be excluding something critical from our calendars: rest.
Rest isn’t just for over-achieving list-makers. We all need a break (can I get an “Amen?”). And before we make assumptions, let’s be clear that resting isn’t just doing less or procrastination. Rest is a state of re-creation where we participate in activities distinctly different from the usual. It’s an intentional activity in which we mentally gather our experiences to reflect, evaluate, contemplate, and celebrate.
George MacDonald said, “Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.” Sacred idleness. Interesting phrase, but fitting since rest was given to us by our Creator. And if divinely gifted (commanded, really), refusing to rest may signal a lack of humility as we dismiss the notion that God knows more about our needs than we do.
Which brings us back to where we started Advent with a focus on humility. To which we added peace last week. And now we join-in the practice of rest. These three — humility, peace, and rest — work together. Submitting all of our ‘doing’ to God is a humble act that fosters a peaceful soul. As God’s peace settles upon us, our spirits are more receptive to a rhythm of replenishing through rest.
Yes, this is an extraordinarily frenetic time of year. So you may be thinking, “Yep, I agree. Rest sounds great but I’ll start after the New Year.” Let’s be honest: When is the doing done? Or the task list sufficiently short? While we all have good, important, and necessary things to do, it’s imperative that we make room for sacred idleness. To pause and ponder not what gifts need wrapping or food preparing, but the wonder of who God is and what He’s done.
In this Advent season, may our restful musings wander toward reflection on the birth of our Savior. The One who has finished the work of redemption so that we might truly rest.
A Prayer for Rest
Cornerstone layer of Earth’s foundation,
Infinite time-making Lord;
emancipate me from this unrested state,
and set my pace to a sanctified rhythm.
“Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”
(Psalm 116:7, ESV)