Learning to Say “Yes” to Rest

May 28 / Ellen Burany
Several years ago, when I first got involved in ministry, I was passionate about people knowing Jesus. I loved introducing others to Him and helping them grow (as I still am today).

The juggling of trying to meet the endless needs all around me, along with managing work, relationships, education, and the tasks of daily life, was a lot.

It was a challenge that often left me feeling exhausted.

Over time, the joy of life in Jesus became a burden of 'shoulds.” These ‘shoulds’ drove me more to frenetic activity than the fullness of life Jesus promised in John 10:10. The idea of rest, when suggested by others, made me feel uncomfortable, even guilty, when I thought about laying down things that would allow me to actually engage in resting. After all, the world needed Jesus, and I wanted to be a part of the answer. And these were all things in my mind, I had to do.

If I could go back in time and lovingly share with myself how important it is to learn to rest—to intentionally slow down and allow God to replenish my body, soul, and spirit - I would.

As I consider the world we live in today, it’s one that constantly demands our attention. This age of information, technology, and social media added to the countless needs of others around us, and the various commitments of daily life can make finding rest a real struggle. Our minds and hearts are bombarded with distractions and needs that hinder us from experiencing true rest for our bodies and souls. Just as we embrace work and ministry as gifts from God, we must learn to embrace rhythms of grace and a Spirit-led pace that brings life instead of weariness as gifts from God, too.

As we consider what God says about rest, remember that He modeled rest for us from the beginning.

In Genesis 3, we see that on the seventh day, God rested after he created. All over His Word, we see God inviting us as His dearly loved children to find rest for our souls in Him (Psalm 62). And although we are not under the law as God’s people were in the Old Testament, and we are under grace, the wisdom of the law remains. We can embrace rest as a rhythm of grace. We can lay down our work and busyness and entrust them to our good God. We can take space to more deeply abide in Christ and replenish our bodies and souls in and with our Lord.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says,

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

These words of Christ are an invitation to lean into a life of abiding in Jesus and embracing His ways, which differed from the burden the religious leaders laid on people. It’s a life attuned to His Spirit, so we can say yes to the Lord’s invitations and the pace God desires us to go. It’s a life of learning from Jesus how to move away from the tiring self-effort of working for God to a deeply God-dependent place of attuning to His Spirit and working with Him, and in that way, having a “restful doing.”

If we neglect our humanity and reject rest, we become weary or tired mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, and even spiritually. When we’re exhausted, there are consequences as well.

We can burn out. 

It can become more challenging for us to stay connected to Jesus. 

When we’re weary and not attending to our body and soul, it also makes us more vulnerable to giving in to temptation. 

And, although we don’t always think about this, we can unintentionally model for others that life with Jesus means being busy and tired and that the Lord is primarily focused on our doing for Him rather than being with Him. 

Although we might not see it in this way, saying yes to rest is a profound act of humility and wisdom. It compels us to acknowledge our humanity and limitations, to “cease striving” and remember that God is God and we are not. It is a way to deepen our dependence on God, which is a beautiful act of worship.

 In John 15, Christ invites us to abide in Him. As we slow down to rest, it creates a space for us to commune more deeply with our Lord, to grow to know Him, learn to work with Him, and discern from His Spirit the most important things He is inviting us to say yes or no to. 

Let's allow our gracious God, who loves us, to guide us in stewarding our bodies and souls well by prioritizing rest. It is a precious gift from God that leads to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. Remember, rest is not simply a luxury but a necessity in our spiritual journey. It is a way to recharge, refocus, and realign our hearts with Jesus, bringing us closer to Him and His purpose for our lives.
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LLI trainer Ellen Burany, for a
3 hour online Spiritual Retreat!

June 17th5 pm (London time)

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Ellen Burany

Ellen Burany, has over 25 years of ministry experience and has spent 19 years focused on leading, developing and ministering to Christian leaders. She holds an M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and steps alongside others to help them grow and root deeper in their walks with Jesus.