Yesterday I woke from a busy weekend feeling a little anxious. I was talking to God about how I was feeling and felt him prompt me to get out of bed and to take Isaac our youngest child for his twice weekly horse ride. We love the stables; it’s quiet, peaceful and I feel close to God there. Usually we don’t go at the start of the week, but yesterday I followed the Holy Spirit’s gentle promptings to change my plans, and I’m really glad I did. Within minutes of being at the stables I felt the anxiety lift off me. In it’s place was a greater awareness of God’s presence, which quickly turned into a rest which I carried with me throughout the rest of my day.
Finding rest is vital in the world in which we live. Unfortunately we often have not the slightest idea how to rest or slow down. We have become accustomed to constant activity, and even think we don’t deserve to take a break, or do something that prospers our souls and spirit’s, so we ignore our body and spirit’s quiet whisper to rest.
But we must rest if we want to live our best life, for without finding rest we will never discover that closeness and awareness of God, nor live the life for which we were made.
I encourage you to take the time everyday to find that place of rest. Perhaps you first need to rest you body and do something that prospers your soul. That means finding things that make you happy. Jesus is totally in to that, because He is the one who said “I have come that they may have life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) He actually wants us to find joy in our existence, because He knows how we are wired and that when we relax, slow down and rest from our labours we are far more aware of His presence and able to connect more deeply with Him. When we relax we can let our spirit rest within us too, and engage with all the wonderful things God has to share with us.
Some helpful hints to help relax are:
1.Respond to Jesus. We can try all the self-help books and methods we like, but it is Jesus and His love for us that ultimately gives us true rest to our souls and spirits. He makes us come alive in the inside and replenishes our very being. When we find the truth about Jesus and then respond to Him we find true rest.
2.Pray and read and speak God’s word. When everything is chaos and noise around us talking to God and reading His word gives us strength and perspective. He says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
3.Breathe We often forget to focus on the simplest, shortest activity available to us: our breath. An easy way to start to relax is take five deep breaths. There is a natural pause between our inhale and exhale, and then between our exhale and our next inhale. When we breathe deeply and with focus we relax.
4. Tend to yourself. Do something nice for yourself and take the time to treat yourself kindly. Far too often we can forget the importance of doing something nice for ourselves just because.
5. Morning pages or writing in a journal. It works wonders for getting all those thoughts out of our heads and down on paper. You’ll be amazed at what starts to happen when you consistently write down your thoughts, emotions and dreams. It clarifies, reveals our hearts, and also allows God to speak to us.
6. Keep a diary so you are not trying to keep everything in your head. Then you can spend time with God, read his word, do what you need to do and not be weighed down with those things you are trying not to forget in your day. Plus once you’ve done them you can tick them off your list as accomplished.
7.Bless and think of someone else. Sometimes the quickest way to unwind is to focus on someone other than ourselves. Call a friend and talk. Listen to them, and be on the look out for ways to bless others.
8.Be in nature. Engaging our senses is a powerful way to relax, and even to connect with our creator God. Which is why the stables work for me. Head outdoors and appreciate all that God has made. The bible says that all creation tells of His goodness. (Psalm 19:1)
9.Take a 20-minute catnap. My husband says this works wonders, and makes people far more productive in their day. A short nap, can feel like a mini-vacation. But anything over 30 minutes takes you into deep sleep, so keep it short and sweet.
10. Take a bathroom break. This may sound silly, but if a bathroom break is the only quiet place you can find when you’re feeling stressed at work or when you’re out and about, then “just escape to the bathroom” and take a few minutes.
Figure out what works for you. Some people unwind with a vigorous run, playing sport, being creative, a walk in the park, sitting quietly reading a book, praying, or simply enjoying their favourite cup of tea or coffee.
Regardless of how we relax, God wants us to make and discover ways to come aside and rest awhile so that our souls and spirit’s can be replenished and renewed. Without learning to rest we will fall into the trap of never being able to stop, and we can quickly lose the ability to get quiet on the inside. This can cause a distance, and even dullness towards the God, His presence and His ways, and true rest will continue to escape us.
Take a few moments and find time to rest today!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
Prayer: Lord help me to take the time to come aside and rest awhile with you, and to discover what prospers my soul and spirit, so that I can draw closer to you in true rest. In Jesus Name Amen.