Why is it that kids will not sleep past 6 a.m. on days when they are able to? There is a point in time when people no longer desire to get up early. We are not to that place yet. It is an ongoing battle for stamina and cognitive reasoning. The lack of rest situation seems to lend itself to limited stamina and shady brain function. It also seems like these days of low rest are also the most vulnerable times. It is when I am tired that my mind starts to get irritated with things and even question whether I am making a difference in ministry. Exhaustion is a dangerous place to live.
It is important to figure out ways to rest, no matter what your season of life is. This is true for those in vocational ministry and those not. It really is something we all need to grapple with. If you need an example, you can look at the story of the prophet Elijah. He was a man God was obviously using for amazing things and he still got frustrated. In 1 Kings 19 we see him giving up and telling God he just wants to die. Now, God does not kill him. Instead God gives to Elijah the provisions he needs in order to regain some perspective. He was tired and he really needed some rest.
How does one find time to rest?
Plan for it
I have 4 young children. Unless I plan to rest, it will not happen. This means going to bed earlier than I might normally. It might mean taking a nap on a day off instead of doing work around the yard. It might mean reading a book. It could mean a lot of things. The main thing I have noticed is that I need to plan it.
Set things aside
This is especially hard for people who have jobs that are more integrated into their life. I find that I need to make the decision not to work on my day off. In order to do that, I will make myself notes about things that I need to remember to do and I will place them in my computer bag. It will get done, just not today.
Receive from God
One of the things we learn from Elijah’s story is the need to accept the provisions from God. Elijah did not know what he needed. He knew he was tired and ready to die. We are the same way, albeit a bit less dramatic. (mostly) I find that when I open the Word of God, I receive from the Lord. So often I read a verse or a story that encourages me based on where my mind is that day. I know that is God’s provision for me! He will do the same for you.
I know that when I get tired, I tend to snap a little quicker. I also will get irritated with things that I wouldn’t otherwise get irritated with. This is a clue to me that I need to rest.
There are so many things that I struggle to say no to because I know how it is supposed to be done. Yet, I have learned that saying no is not a sin, while maybe saying yes to everything is. Whenever I say yes to something I say no to something else. The concern is that I say no to my family more than I should. We need to be wise about what we do and don’t do.
Rhythm in ministry is hard to find. Rhythm in a home with young children is perhaps even harder to find. But we know that God walks with us, leads us and provides what we need for the journey. It is important to rest and remember that Jesus provides something far better than stress. He offers peace.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28