We all need a rest

Matt 11

This is one of those weeks which I knew I was getting myself into when I applied to be a Reader in Training for the Church of Scotland.

I have an assignment due in by the end of this week (only 500 words and, in a rare moment of organisation and good time management, I have actually done it). I am driving the 160 miles from work at 5pm on Friday to the college I’m studying with in Dingwall in order to be at a conference day on Saturday. I have a week’s worth of studying and a lecture (plus, of course, a full time job). Oh, and I’m preaching on Sunday for the first time at my placement Church, so I also have a sermon to write.

All mixed in with being a taxi for my kids.

It genuinely feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes. You are pushed from pillar to post as your nose is constantly stuck in a book, or you’re glued to a computer screen or you’re behind the wheel of a car. It’s almost as if your life amounts to less unless you are constantly busy, always on the go; like the proverbial fly with the blue backside.

But sometimes you just need to stop. You need to have a break. You need to push through that guilt you feel for not working towards the next thing on your to do list (as if I’m ever organised enough to have a to do list!!) and just rest. Modern life gives us too much to worry about and not enough to just sit back and enjoy; it’s our responsibility to do that for ourselves. Nobody is a robot – in case you are, in which case no, I’m not Sarah Connor, now go away – we are flesh and blood and that needs to rest occasionally.

I need to remind myself of this as the work really starts to ramp up. Yes, I’ll work hard, I’ll give all I can give to it all. Not, however, at the expense of my wellbeing or family life. If I did that, I’d be no use to myself, my family, to my workplace or to God. Even he rested on the seventh day (or, arbitrary period of time, considering the creation story in Genesis is just an illustration).

So, I watched the Rugby this afternoon after doing my assignment. Then I did more reading. Now I’m doing this, just to get some stuff out as a therapeutic measure.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30; The Message)

Yes, we all get tired and burned out. We all need to rest and be refreshed. So I will stop and enjoy life, I will watch a bit of sport, I will chat with my family and I will just spend time with Jesus.

Anyway, I have a sermon to write…

Buses, bottoms and rest.

Right now, sitting down hurts.

I go to work on a coach. The company I work for lay them on all over the area to get staff to work for free, as my place of work is away from public transport links. The bus I get has changed recently as they have had to change some routes due to major roadworks. My new bus has a driver who is, to put it mildly, a bit erratic. He pulls away, suddenly, almost as the last person steps on, not giving you a chance to sit down first. Parked cars and speed bumps are inconveniences to be negotiated without slowing. Corners are dealt with in a similar manner.

I sleep on the bus to and from work every day, plugged into my headphones listening to music, so I’m able to zone out of the carnage going on around me most days (no accidents so far). However, this morning I really noticed the driving.

I was walking to my seat as the bus wove in and out of the parked cars like an Olympic skier going down the moguls course. As I went to take my seat the bus suddenly went to the left, throwing me towards the seat. The arm rest was up and bottom and hard plastic came together at speed, connecting just where the bone is.

As I said, sitting down hurts right now.

We all do this, though. Speeding through life, weaving all over the place from place to place. Event to event. Job to job. Relationship to relationship. Sometimes, we’re so busy, so focused on getting to where we want to be, that we fail to notice what’s going on around us.

Sometimes it means people get hurt. Sometimes we miss other opportunities because of our blinkers. Sometimes we miss the beauty of the things or people around us. Sometimes we just burn out.

As the great philosopher Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

In the modern world, stopping and looking around once in a while can be very difficult. We have so many pressures put upon us from all kinds of sources, including ourselves, that we often don’t feel that we are able to take time out for anything.

We have to, though. We weren’t designed to be on the go constantly. Our bodies and our minds need rest and refreshment. We need time and space to just be us, to be able to take stock and recharge the batteries.

A much greater and wiser man, even than Ferris Bueller, was Jesus. He said this,

“My Father has given me all things. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.  For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” (Matthew 11:27-30 GNT)

We are designed to take rest. Rest from work, rest from worries (easier said than done!), rest from all the commitments we make to others, rest from our responsibilities. We can take these to Jesus and He will lighten the load. It may be that we start to see the wood for the trees and can figure things out clearer. It may be that we find others to help us with our load. It may be that we find the strength to ask for the help we need. It may just be that the rest helps us to recharge so that we can face the challenges ahead.

One thing I’m sure of is that Jesus gives us the rest we need, if we can just stop for a while and look for Him.

Maybe we’ll avoid landing on our backsides so often too.