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Posts Tagged ‘rest’

All slumber, but few find rest.

 

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Years ago, during a time of prayer, I felt as though the Lord spoke to me about the words rest, relaxation and recreation.  Some might view these words as being fairly synonymous, but in terms of the kingdom of God, they’re really quite distinct.

 

In our culture we’ve raised recreation and relaxation to the level of high art, and in spiritual terms, we’ve largely made them into an idol.  In the United States alone we spend trillions of dollars annually on entertainment, hobbies, leisure and recreation.  Not only do they consume a significant portion of our financial resources, they also devour a large portion of our time, energy and passion.  If we take seriously the call to “seek first the kingdom of God”, then we must begin to view these things from an eternal perspective.

 

At the root of the word recreation is the term “re-create” and on some level I believe that recreation was intended to be an avenue for restoration in our lives.  It certainly has the potential to bring an element of balance to a life of responsibility, and can allow for some of our childlike traits to be nurtured.  But with the intensity in which recreation is pursued within our society, I believe that we rarely realize that potential.  Instead we generally emerge from our times of recreation exhausted (e.g. physically, emotionally, financially…).

 

While these periods may help to distract us from the issues in our lives, they rarely help in resolving them or in making us more prepared to deal with them.  Frequently the cost of distracting ourselves from these unresolved concerns is that those problems become even more severe.  One of “Webster’s” definitions for recreation is, “a means of diversion” and from a spiritual standpoint, that is normally what it amounts to.  Most of our recreation is a very expensive form of escapism, but we rarely escape anything, we simply pile it up for later.

 

Closely coupled with our recreation is the idea of relaxation.  Many of us would claim that our periods of recreation help to relax us, but if we’re honest that is rarely the case.  The nature of relaxing is that we would be “less intense”, but generally we approach our recreation with more zeal and energy than we do our jobs and sometimes even our families.  As an observer of most recreational activities, one could hardly describe the participants as relaxed.

 

From a spiritual perspective the word relax is troublesome.  It can mean “casting off restraint” or “becoming lax” or as previously stated, “a loss of intensity”.  Those descriptives seemingly run counter to biblical images such as running the race with endurance, a watchman on the wall, a servant awaiting their Masters return, or a soldier who refuses to become entangled in civilian affairs.  Further, relaxation is largely experienced in the flesh and has little potential for restoration in or of our souls.  As such, our spiritual enemy loves much of what we call “relaxation”, as it amounts to little more than letting our guard down.

 

At the core of our being what we need more than recreation or relaxation is rest.  The word rest can be associated with inactivity or even sleep, but in the spiritual context it goes far beyond those things.  Rest is a freedom from labor (e.g. “My yoke is easy, My burden light…”), freedom from anxieties (e.g. “be anxious for nothing”), peace of mind or spirit (e.g. “the peace that surpasses understanding”) and to stand in confidence (e.g. “if God be for us, who can stand against us…”).

 

The rest that God offers is not the temporal kind that is only found in unconscious slumber, it is His profound provision in the midst of all that He’s called us to.  It is the unshakable peace that accompanies the knowledge that He is truly sovereign over all things; that He loves us unconditionally; that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and who are called to His purposes; and that He is faithful to complete the good work that He’s begun in us.

 

True rest can only be found in Him, and within that rest are renewal, revelation, restoration and healing.  I firmly believe that he Body of Christ in America suffers from an excessive amount of recreation and relaxation, and from a serious lack of divine rest.  We must learn to heed His call, “Come all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”.

 

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