I recently returned from a long overdue vacation with my family. We rented a house on the beach, packed our bags and drove to the Gulf Coast. We took naps during the day, built sand castles and dined at a seaside cafe. I can’t tell you how much I needed some good rest and relaxation; however, the hardest part was leaving for vacation.
I serve as a youth and family minister at a church in Tennessee and my job is not typical. I don’t punch out at the end of the day like some. It seems there is always one more thing to do – one more phone call to make, one more event to plan, one more class for which to prepare. I am blessed to serve a great church in a great community and I love it; however, lately I have felt like I was just trying to get through it – through the next program, the next staff meeting, the next planning session. Do you know what I mean?
While breaking away for vacation was a great idea, I was tempted to take work with me, but that wasn’t the point. The point was about choosing to rest. The point was about being intentional about real down time. I was recently reading in Jeremiah and came across this passage:
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” – Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
God wired us to need rest, but how often do we resist it? I’m not talking about sleeping in your bed at night, but rather a rest for your soul. I had lost my reason for doing what I do. I had no more to give, no more to say. I realize now I went to the ocean to find my soul. While at the beach, I didn’t touch my phone, email piled up and I have no regrets! My first day back in the office, I felt different, lighter somehow. Deadlines were still waiting, but the anxiety and pressure were gone.
I think the ancient path the Lord is speaking of in this passage is this lifelong lesson of learning to trust and abide in Him and a part of trusting Him is to take some time off and find something that brings you rest. It may be working in your garden, reading a good book, or taking a day hike. We all need soul therapy from time to time.
I now know my warning signs of being overworked. With God’s help, I will not neglect time away again.
You don’t have to work so hard
You can rest easy
You don’t have to prove yourself
You’re already mine
You don’t have to hide your heart
I already love you
I hold it in mine
So you can rest easy
– Andrew Peterson (“Rest Easy” from Light for the Lost Boy album)
Kris Roberts, Director of Student and Family Life Ministries,
First United Methodist Church, Tullahoma, TN