These timeless words, first spoken in the book of Exodus, even today grant us overwhelming encouragement. Exodus, the most important event in Israel’s history, brought confidence and courage to the enslaved people and formed them into a nation with hope for the future. No matter what, God is guaranteeing rest for us and yet do we do our part seeking this rest? Do we recognize that always living and planning for tomorrow can diminish today? Or that worrying and being anxious add nothing except stress to our life. While caretaking can be our call, often we can be obsessive and controlling, forgetting our loved ones are separate individuals and we are not called to fix their problems. Loving them and taking care of ourselves, by seeking the rest and quiet we need, is a required priority.
We are promised rest in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures so obviously rest is important. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” Matthew 11:28-29. God rested on the seventh day (after creation - Exodus 20:11) and gave us an example to follow. During rest we can recuperate energy and become prepared for future production. Once we become burned out, it is much harder to recover. With our caretaking duties, we may think we can’t afford to take time off, however, more to the point, we can’t afford not to. Perhaps God is reminding us that no one can be available 24/7. Without proper self-care and living a balanced life, we commit a disservice to our loved ones and ourselves. How much compassion and generosity can we bring to ourselves in our present circumstances? Are we not worthy of our own affection and regard?
Spending even a little quiet time can become rejuvenating. God’s rest fills us with hope and strength to keep on keeping on. As we become mindful of our feelings, (we usually want to avoid them,) giving ourselves permission to feel different emotions, (some possibly not so nice,) we validate and affirm our right to feel as we do and are then restored. Pema Chodron says, “Complete friendship with yourself is the core of any spiritual growth.” While this is true, we can also be our own worst enemy. Why do we pressure ourselves unnecessarily? I wish I had an answer to that because in all honesty, I am often guilty of it. I know God wants me to recognize that strength means honoring my entire range of emotions, even despair and heartbreak and in doing so, He will grant me His rest.
I read, God’s office is at the end of our rope. Before burning out, why not take some quiet time to listen to God’s voice, reminding us we are not alone and assured of His rest. Can we afford not to? Comments always welcome.