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Why Rest?

"One of my biggest mistakes was not taking time to rest and renew."

In a busy world, why would we ever want to rest?

Barb and I are enjoying some time away together this week at a borrowed beachfront condo in San Diego.  It’s a lovely spot to catch our breath, get some sun, enjoy the ocean, watch some baseball and just generally do whatever we want to do. We intend to make the most of the next 10 days!

A number of years ago, I sat with a loved and respected friend who was recovering from a moral failure. In the midst of his sharing, he blurted out “one of my biggest mistakes was not taking time to rest and renew.” Then he looked me in the eye and said, “missed days off, missed vacations, missed holidays are a big part of what led me to where I am today.” At the time, his words seemed a feeble attempt at justifying a poor life choice. Twenty years later, the wisdom in his words is profound.

Rest is the most basic of boundaries. Every time we rest we say that work time is over. When I look up from my laptop as I write this, I see families playing on the beach, people surfing, running, walking and cycling. They could all be working, but they set a boundary and came to the beach instead. The important thing is not where they are, but that they made a choice to do something other than work. Instead of working, they are laughing and making memories. It seems like a win to me!

Rest is a rhythm. If your recurring answer to ‘how are you?’ is ‘BUSY’, I’m talking to you. We were made with a need to rest. I know you THINK you are getting a lot done, but you aren’t doing as well as you could be if you just took some time to rest.  Working tired leads to more mistakes: some small, some big. Some are life-altering for all the wrong reasons. Rest helps us see things more clearly and from a different and better perspective. Downtime allows our subconscious to bring insights and ideas we wouldn’t normally have if we just give it the opportunity. ‘Sleeping on it’ is almost always a game changer.

Rest makes the road ahead possible. I’m a visionary by nature. I can tell you what I want to accomplish in the next 18-24 months. However, I know that without plenty of time to rest, none of it is likely to materialize. Rest doesn’t have to be about taking a nap. Sometimes rest is just about doing something different. Running, cycling, and motorcycling are all rest activities for me because I don’t think about work when I’m doing those things. My best friend is working on his second cedar strip canoe for the same reason. What do you do outside of work that energizes you?

Rest allows time to reconnect. Barb and I spend more time apart now than we ever have in our lives. These times together are important for us as a couple. We will take some time to walk the beach, hear the waves, watch the sunsets and just be present and together. We’ll talk and we’ll laugh. We may even disagree over a few things and, in the end, we’ll come away stronger and better because rest permitted us time to connect in a meaningful way.

Rest renews our inner man. This is the core of what my friend was alluding to in our conversation. In failing to rest, he failed to renew his inner man. That led to an affair that destroyed his reputation, his career and had an irreparable impact on his family. Regular rest is low-cost insurance against high-cost poor decisions. The psalmist wrote these words to describe how God works in this area of our lives. ‘He leads me beside still waters. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul.’

Have a great week everyone. I’m off to rest, recreate, and renew!