Even God Rested - So You Should, Too
- 2003 30 Apr
Rest. How often have you longed for it? If you’re like most people, you’re probably enticed by thoughts of rest fairly frequently. Your weary spirit, mind, and body yearn for it. But now consider: How often do you actually get the rest you long for?
Again, if you’re like most people, probably not nearly as often as you need. And if you’re a woman, you might feel particularly guilty about taking time out of your busy schedule to rest.
But even God rested, and He wants you to rest, too, says Kim Thomas in her new book, "Even God Rested: Why It’s Okay for Women to Slow Down." Women, in particular, need to discover more about rest, Thomas says. “It is my feeling that women in general are busy trying to prove their worth and significance, and rest doesn’t seem to support that pursuit. So instead, we spend ourselves at the expense of wholeness. We missed the fact that God created us with a need for a certain specific rhythm of work and rest, and even invited us to that by modeling it for us.”
When people think of resting, they often think simply in terms of dropping activities from their schedules or getting more sleep. But Thomas’ book expands that thinking. She discusses how even things like contentment, sensing, mystery, beauty, and flexibility can help people rest -- in addition to topics more commonly associated with rest, such as balance, silence, positive thinking, leisure, slowing down, solitude, trust, prayer, and peace. Throughout the book, Thomas places an equal emphasis on ceasing attitudes and behaviors that hinder rest and feasting on those that foster it.
“Rest is not merely the cessation of activity,” she says. “That is a more Eastern understanding, much like the understanding of meditation that has it’s aim of emptying the person. A Christian understanding of meditation has it’s aim of emptying of self, but with the goal of being filled with the presence of Christ. True and biblical rest follows a similar pattern. In Exodus 31:17, we are told that God ceased his labor and rested and was refreshed. The Hebrew for that word refreshed there is naphash, meaning refreshed as in ‘a breath of fresh air.’ Breathing is composed of two parts, the inspiration and expiration. To be refreshed and rested, we must have both the work of expiration, and then the filling of inspiration.”
This holistic view of rest can open the door to the abundant life that God wants every woman to enjoy, says Thomas. “Scripture tells us that God worked and labored for six days, but that on the seventh day, he ceased from his labors and feasted on the goodness therein. He performed his best work for six days, and then stepped back to enjoy the results. He ceased, and feasted. We are often afraid of rest because we see it as simply the ceasing. But God prescribed a rest that feasts on goodness, and therefore restores and refreshes. It opens up a whole new way of seeing, a way of ‘non-doing’ that nurtures ‘being’.”
Personally, Thomas says, she had trouble learning how to rest, but is pleased with her progress so far. “Being a perfectionist and overachiever by nature, I personally felt guilty about not “doing” something all the time. It was as if rest had no intrinsic value and therefore didn’t deserve a place in my schedule,” she recalls.
Now, however, resting “has caused me to readjust my ‘what is important’ scale. I have begun to value the simplicity of being in the quiet of His presence, and it’s profound power to restore me. And I have begun to see that as important, as a valuable … use of my time. I think perhaps I have muted some of the noise and can start to hear the still, small voice again. And as I develop this skill of rest, I probably become a better image-bearer of who God really is.”
Thomas acknowledges that learning to rest is a process rather than an event – and that can seem daunting to people who are already tired. It’s an unfortunate paradox sometimes that people who need rest desperately feel they don’t have enough energy to start this new habit in their lives. Still, says Thomas, rest is well within everyone’s reach. Incorporating rest has to be done “a little at a time so that it can become a way of life,” she says. “Surrendering a little bit of ground at a time to rest will eventually net some grand real estate. The urgent must not succeed in usurping the truly important. And rest is truly important. In the long run, it will make us more productive anyway, but productive unto wholeness, and wellness, and Godliness.”
God stands by ready to help you if you want more rest in your life, Thomas says. “Jesus tenderly gives the invitation, ‘come unto Me all of you who are weary, and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ He knows the busyness and madness of our lives, and invites us to his gift of rest. Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, uses an analogy to communicate God’s design for restoration and redemption. He describes old, dead, dry bones in the desert, lifeless and useless. He tells how God longs to restore and refresh them. He says, ‘I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.’ Dead, dry bones in the desert describe me when I am spent and in need of rest, and naphash, a breath of fresh air. He can restore me, and you even today with a breath from heaven, a Sabbath breath.”
Besides "Even God Rested: Why It’s Okay for Women to Slow Down," author Kim Thomas has also written "Simplicity," a book on living a contented, uncluttered life. Kim and her husband Jim minister to college students around the country and make their home in Tennessee.