Rest to be Your Best
By John Van Pay
“Remember the Sabbath for it is holy.”–Exodus 20:8
“When fatigue walks in, faith walks out.” - Dr. Dave Martin
Rest is essential to longevity. The days leading up to a big race event are known as “taper week.” By not training as hard, you give your body and mind a chance to prepare for a long day. During a long-distance race, aid stations are for resting and refueling. And during a multiple-day, mountain-bike stage race in the Colorado mountains known as the Breck Epic, resting and recovering become paramount. After long endurance events like this one, athletes will recover when the number of rest days equals the number of hours required to finish the race. If you don’t get your rest, you can’t be at your best. High-performance leaders have a common trait. They eat balanced meals, sleep longer at night, and take regular power naps.
Disobeying God’s command to “remember the Sabbath for it is holy” is probably the number one reason why so many burn out. God didn’t just command it. He modeled it when He rested on the seventh day after six days of work. Honoring His command to take a day of rest is your sacred responsibility. If you were to visit Israel today, you’d discover the entire country shuts down from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. No stores are open. Airplanes stop flying. They obey the Lord. They rest.
Unfortunately, our American culture prides itself on busyness. If you aren’t busy, you’re considered lazy. Nearly half of the pastors surveyed in a Lifeway Research study admitted they don’t take a regular Sabbath.It’s an obedience issue. You wouldn’t rob God of his sacred tithe, so don’t rob Him of this sacred time of rest. A tithe means believing God can do more with your 90 percent than you could do with 100 percent. What if you shared that same belief concerning time? If you are exhausted, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest isn’t optional because God knows if you disobey you’ll become weary and tired. You won’t feel His presence or have the passion needed to fulfill His purpose for your life. You are worth too much to the Lord and His Kingdom. I’m not a Sabbatarian, but I do apply the wisdom of rest.
Before you can help others, you must help yourself. Imagine you are flying on an airplane with your family. If there was a problem that required everyone to reach for an oxygen mask, your first instinct might be to help others. However, the best way to help others is to place your own oxygen mask on first. Scripture makes an interesting connection: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). You have two options.
You can try and do everything yourself in your own strength, leaving you worn out. Or you can rest and be patient for God. When you do, He will give you supernatural strength, wisdom, and power. Resting is a non-negotiable for finishing your race. Consider implementing a system of rest into your schedule.
Jesus withdrew often to “desolate” places to spend time with His Father in solitude.If Jesus, the Son of Man who was fully God, needed rest, we do too. Make time to connect with the Lord. Consistently caring for your soul is critical to long-term health. Don’t just block a few minutes in the morning. Be aware of His presence during the day for worship, prayer, and gratitude. Fellowship with God. Walk with Him.
My favorite day of the week is Friday because it begins with a mountain-bike ride and ends with a date with my wife. We usually hop on my motorcycle and take a ride to the river where we set up our double nest hammock to cuddle or read a book. It’s important to recharge your batteries with a day off that is not filled with work or the “honey-do list.” You are uniquely wired. Do what you enjoy that brings joy to your soul. Include a large block of solitude as well. Disable your email. Turn off your phone. Enjoy God’s gift of rest with a day off.
Excerpted from Marathon Faith: Motivation from the Greatest Endurance Runners of the Bible by John Van Pay.
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