REST. Yes, this is a need I am well acquainted with.
I woke up this morning at 7:30am, then laid in bed listening to contemporary Christian music for thirty minutes before getting up and dressing. Next, I took the sheets off my bed and put them in the washer. After that, it was time to rest.
Why, you ask, would I need to rest so early in the day? Because I have been diagnosed with a long list of chronic illnesses and live daily with pain. Yet I have to function, to keep my household running and our home reasonably clean. Doing this requires taking at least ten minutes to rest when the pain becomes severe. My day advances in spurts: do a task that requires standing for no more than ten minutes, sit down and work on something else for maybe half an hour, then get back up and do a small housecleaning job for ten minutes. I allow pain – usually in my lower back or neck and shoulders – to tell me when been on my feet long enough, and I then take time to rest.
Resting is an important part of taking care of myself, so that I will have the strength to do the things God has called me to do. And just as my body needs rest because of my chronic illnesses, my mind requires periods of rest so that I can be at my best when I sit down to write. As I schedule times of physical rest into my days, I also schedule times of rest from writing into my weekly plans.
God made the need for rest clear in His Word. First, He set the pattern of working six days then resting on the seventh day, when He rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. For the Jewish people, He established the Sabbath as a day of rest. Apparently the people were thinking a day of rest was good, except when time was limited and crops needed to be harvested, because in Exodus He made it clear that this was not an exception. Even when deadlines loomed ahead, the need of a day of rest was taught.
This Sabbath principle is one I’ve made a part of my life. As Christians, our day of rest is Sunday. My husband and I don’t make this a law we must follow, but with few exceptions we take Sundays as a day of rest from work. On Sundays, I do only essential housework (meal preparation, washing dishes) and I take a break from writing. My husband takes a break from video production and editing, and we make it a goal to spend some time doing something as a family. I also take breaks during my time set aside for writing to get up and walk around or spend a few minutes on something else that needs to be done. At this point, I am not writing every day – my current goal is to publish at least one blog post per week. But if that changes and writing becomes my “full-time job,” I might also need to schedule an occassional week off from writing. And my breaks from writing aren’t necessarily breaks from words – one of my favorite ways to relax is to sit down with a good novel. Since my physical problems require sitting much of the time, this works for me.
Charles Spurgeon, one of the best known preachers of the nineteenth century and and a prolific author, understood the importance of rest. He said, “Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.” If Spurgeon accomplished all he did, while still taking time to rest, should we not follow his example. Taking time to rest is wise!