Readings: Hebrews 4: 1-16, Psalm 95, Matthew 11: 1-6, 28-30
What does rest mean for you? Does rest mean that you spend an extra couple of hours in bed after you have turned off the alarm clock? Does rest mean that you vegetate out in front of the TV? Does rest mean that you get to spend a whole lot of time in the garden, either enjoying nature or helping God clean it up a little (many people enjoy garden work – some enjoy doing it and others enjoy watching it being done)? Does rest mean that you have to go away from your house and either take a drive or sit on the beach or climb a mountain? Does rest mean that you surround yourself with many people or does it mean that you shut yourself off to the outside world so that you can immerse yourself in a little bit of silence? Does rest mean that you get to do your work without interruptions or do you find the interruptions help you to rest from your work? What would your ideal form of rest be in this moment (because it may change at different times of our lives)?
When you rest in the way that you imagine resting should be done, do you feel refreshed after your rest, ready to take on the world of challenges that awaits us like a lion prowling at the door or do you feel tired but happy? Rest may not always leave us feeling refreshed. We may feel motivated or encouraged or inspired but sometimes we can be inspired and tired. A change might be as good as a holiday, but that doesn’t mean that we are no longer tired and in need of some time to allow our body to recover and heal from the way that we abuse it. It also doesn’t mean that we have had an opportunity to de-clutter our minds by spending some quality time with our thoughts as we reflect deeply on the issues we have bouncing around in our heads and never actually thinking through.
God invites us into a different kind of rest. It is a rest that can be experienced in whatever way we experience rest. It is a rest that can be experienced in whatever we are doing. It is a rest that will give us peace of heart and clarity of mind. It is a rest that will help us discern when to start and when to stop, when to rise and when to sleep, when to listen to our bodies and when to listen to the cries for compassion; when to be busy and when to be still. It is a rest that comes as a consequence of opening our hearts to receive the conviction of the Spirit that we are loved by God and the discernment that is a part of our being led by the Spirit. This rest comes when we sit in the presence of God and allow ourselves to be embraced by His beauty and wonder and glory, It is a rest that comes from opening our imaginations up to the big picture that is found in Christ because that helps us work out what is important and what is not, what is necessary and what is not, what is a priority and what is not. It is a rest that helps us work out what to take up and what to leave. It is the rest that comes from becoming a partner with God in His work of redemption and re-creation. It is a rest that comes from being still before God and allowing Him to gently speak His peace into our lives and allowing Him to clearly sound the call to justice and mercy. It is a rest that comes from being still before God and knowing that He is God.