To Rest is to Leave Unfinished

People seem to be under the impression that we in the Wilbert home do rest well. We've fooled you all then, haven't we? We're as bound up by the shoulds and mights and what ifs as the rest of humanity has been since the devil first pointed to Eden's forbidden tree. 

I would like to give some advice on how to rest for the Christian, but since my advice doesn't work for myself half the time, I can nearly promise it won't for you. Instead, I'd like to talk for a few minutes about the different kinds of rest we need as mere humans, so, if you can spare a few minutes, you can think about how this might work out in your life. Abraham Heschel, rabbi, said, "If you work with your hands, sabbath with your mind. If you work with your mind, sabbath with your hands." This is a helpful rubric if you're a laborer or an accountant, but what if your day is a mix of both? What does it look like to rest then? 

Nate and I often talk about how clocking out of our paying work is a reminder to ourselves and those for whom we work, that we are mere humans and we must leave some things unfinished. The truth is because we are humans and always improvising, creating, exploring, everything is always unfinished. There was a famous explorer who once said, "To infinity and beyond!" but he was still thrown into the toy box at the end of the day. None of us can finish anything ever. No author will ever read a book they published and not find two or three tweaks. No artist will not find a shade of color in their masterpiece fine as it is. No accountant will wake to no longer be needed. We say we cannot finish what God has not completed, so we submit to the limitations of our bodies and rest.

Nate and I also talk often about not kindling a fire on our day of rest. This is another lesson we learned from Heschel, drawing from Exodus 35:3, "You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day." We have used this as a reminder to one another to not light fires of conflict, contention, or confusion for one day a week. This is a reminder to us that we cannot solve the problems the world, our friends, and our humanness throws at us. We have to stop talking about politics, disagreements about theology, discord among friends and counseling situations. We have to step back and say we cannot solve what God has left unsolved—so we submit to the limitations of our minds and rest. 

The last thing we try to do on our day of rest is set our minds on things above. This is the only time of the week we have a good amount of time to talk about scripture with one another, what we're learning, where we're struggling to believe, and how God has been faithful. We don't have a set time where we come together and schedule this out. What happens, though, is because we are resting our bodies and our minds from most of the cares of this world, our spirits are freed up to think about God, one another, worship, the Word. It's not programatic. It's the overflow of a stilled body and quiet mind. So many people ask me how I meditate on Scripture and the secret is this: stop everything else for a bit. If you're constantly listening to music, thinking about your life and the lives of others, keeping busy, how do you think your spirit is going to make itself heard? We have to step back and say we cannot pay attention to God if we're succumbing to the needs (perceived or real) of the body and mind constantly. We submit to the expansiveness of our spirit, in which the Holy Spirit abides, helping and comforting us in all things. 

No matter what season you're in, you're going to have to fight for this. Don't believe the lie that because you're unmarried or because you're the parent of young children or because your spouse isn't a believer that you can't be faithful in small ways to run to the dependable arms of your Father. Just as he made you to work, he also made you to rest. 

Ask yourself these questions to find out what rest might look like for you. Hint: it's not cool to be unbusy. Trust me. People will feel failed by you, projects will be left unfinished, your kids will complain about a whole day at home, you will feel bored (maybe) for a few weeks, you might not get the raise or the promotion you wanted or thought you deserved. This is a discipline but it is also a gift if you will submit yourself to it. 

How can I submit to the limitations of my body and say no to finishing all that seems unfinished?

How can I submit to the limitations of my mind and say no to talking about, scheming, planning, or sorting through problems over which I have no control? 

How can I submit to the expansiveness of my spirit by acknowledging and obeying the presence of the Holy Spirit within me who controls me, compels me, and comforts me?

I read a quote from Scott Sauls a few months back where he said this, "Feel guilty falling asleep while praying? How do you feel when a child nods off in your lap? There. Feel better? You should!" I wanted to cry right then. I love when a child falls asleep in my lap and I want to trust my Father loves that about me too. He loves when I leave unfinished what only he can finish (Zack Eswine—and I'm going to keep quoting it beyond when you're all tired of it.).