Taking a Break--The Discipline of Rest

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."--Matthew 11:28 This weekend was probably one of the more relaxing ones we have had in a long time. The only stress I really had was the lesson that I was to teach on Sunday morning! It still wasn't completely written (the truth comes out!), though I had a good idea of the direction and purpose. But it was one of those weekends where we didn't have a lot to do. Instead, my husband and I had an opportunity to have some leisurely time looking at countertops and deciding on cabinetry for our new kitchen.

Unfortunately, that is not the way it is for us on a regular basis. I tend to be a workaholic by nature, always working on something. Part of it is because as a mom, there's just a lot to do. Managing a home and juggling the needs of five (soon to be six!) people is enough to drive me batty at times.

But to be honest, if I were to look deep down inside, I think I keep working because in my very heart of hearts, I don't trust God. I don't trust that if I accept His invitation to stop and rest, I will get overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. All I can see is the stress I'd be under if I just took a break. Do you feel that way too? And so out of fear, I keep plugging away.

Not only that, I am basically telling God that I know better. But rest is not an option. If we really think about it, taking a break, resting, observing the Sabbath, is a command. Exodus 20:8 says to "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." We have six days to do all our work, but the seventh is meant to be a Sabbath, a rest, set aside for Him.

In our home, weekends are not restful. As a pastor, Sundays are work days for my husband. But I don't think the issue is the day of the week that we choose, but the fact that we stop to take a break at all. I think the point that God is making is that out of every six days of work, there should be one day that we should take a break. And yet, there is a drivenness in me that keeps me moving. And the faster I'm going, the harder it is to stop!

But the thing is, I am not made for that kind of lifestyle. Neither are you. We have limits, though we don't want to admit it. And sometimes if I fight against it, the only way God gets me to slow down is by allowing me to get sick. Then, I have no choice but to surrender and stop.

Wouldn't it be better to just take regular breaks? It seems that some way or other, we will need to take one. Why do I insist on running myself to the ground so that I am forced to take it? Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment, or just plain foolish.

Our culture prizes productivity. I know that I have bought into that value, thinking that the more productive I am, the more valuable I am. All it takes is for me to be out sick to see that this is simply not true. Life keeps chugging along, even without me.

On the contrary, when I learn to discipline myself to stop, to take regular breaks, it then allows me to not only respect my limits, but also get some breathing space, find restoration, and renew my perspective.

Sometimes life does not allow me to stop for a full day on the weekend or even during the week. What I have been trying to do then is to make space in my day for a break. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, this is not just for my sanity, but to keep my children from being scarred for life! When I run myself from morning to night (I try to start my day at 5:15 with exercise and usually go till about 10:30 p.m.) without stopping, I can hear the edge creep into my voice.

I have learned that at this time, the DVD player is my best friend (horrors!). I usually set up my youngest with a pre-approved program and sneak off into my room to take a break. There, I read or take a nap. Lately, it has been a nap because I have not been getting enough sleep! This little breather has helped me to get my energy back and finish the day off in a much more pleasant manner.

How about you? Are there spaces in your life for rest? Whether it be Sunday or Wednesday, whether it be an hour every day or a day once a week, do you have spaces for rest? Our Lord invites us to come to Him to find that rest. Once you taste and see that He is good, you won't want to turn back. I know I don't.

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