The REST of the Story: Learning the Discipline of Intentional Rest

Two tiny bodies snuggle into their beds, quilts piled high and books piled higher. It’s our daily rest time- a day when sleep is not imperative, though encouraged. Each child chooses a few stack of their favourite books to look at during rest time.

I say my usual line as I close Tiny Daughter’s door, “If your eyes get droopy, just lay your head down and have a little sleep. Love you.”

“Ok, Mommy! I will” she says. Always the same answer, and she usually does sleep for part of her rest time.

And then as I tuck in Small Son (somehow tuck him in amongst the herds of animals and sea creatures), “If your eyes get droopy, just lay your head down and have a little sleep. Love you.”

“They won’t get droopy!” he assures me. Always the same answer. Usually the same result: 15 minutes of book reading and he’s ready to roar again.

I ponder the difference between my children. Tiny Daughter rests easily, sleeps intentionally. She delights in snuggling in with her dollies and Mommy’s robe. Small Son fights sleep time with all he’s got, and I have a hunch that he may even hire some of his little green army men to prop his eyes open. He waits until the moment of exhaustion (or beyond) to give his body its needed rest. He usually needs an outside source (Mommy?) to propel him into bed and set his internal clock to ticking a bit more softly.

I see this same tendency in my own life when it comes to rest. Not referring to physical rest here, but emotional and spiritual rest.

Why do we tend to wait until we are ‘at the end of our rope’ or living by that ‘last straw’ before we realize that we need rest?

Coming to mind are the words of our Lord found in Matthew 11:28, “Come into me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We often apply this verse to salvation, and rightfully so….because who of us was born begging for the rest our souls need? Who of us seeks out God without someone first showing us Who He is and teaching us why we need Him?

Even beyond salvation, we need soul rest.

Tight schedules leave us gasping for space to breathe. Stress mounts and we let it do so, subconsciously learning how to function on ‘half’ or even ’empty.’  Life’s upheavals and uncertainties chip away at our endurance, until we come to the end of ourselves. That’s when we finally start thinking about getting a break…maybe even start planning for one.

God knows we won’t naturally seek Him for rest, so He beckons, He implores us to come. He even told his disciples to “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile” and the verse goes on to tell us that “there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:31)  The disciples were at the point of exhaustion from not even having time to eat. Why? They had been labouring in Christ’s ministry non-stop. They were finding out how emptying it can be to pour out your heart, soul and body into ministry, yet not take the time to be refreshed.

Why do we push ourselves to the limit when rest is right in front of us? Why do we put ourselves into positions where God gives us a ‘forced rest’ because He knows we won’t slow down unless He makes us?

Whatever happened to making the choice to lie down in green pastures? (Psalm 23:2)

Have we forgotten how to abide “under the shadow of the Almighty?” just because we desire to? (Psalm 91:1)

Oh, the blessings of resting at our LORD’s feet- of gleaning from His rich blessings there! It’s a rest that carries us above this life as we enjoy the satisfaction of close fellowship with Him.

Learning to rest is a discipline of the heart.

Just as we teach children good rest/sleep habits, we need to teach our hearts to rest intentionally, not by desperation or as a last resort.

It’s a rest I can’t do without.

You can’t either.



14 thoughts on “The REST of the Story: Learning the Discipline of Intentional Rest

  1. Thank you for this post, Leah. I try to intentionally rest several times throughout the day. I am a pastor’s wife of a small, rural church with 8 of our 10 children at home, so rest with the Lord is imperative! I recently found your blog and so enjoy the edifying posts. You are a blessing to me.

    1. Laurie, thank you so much for your encouraging comments! I usually blog about the things God is teaching me…so I definitely don’t have it “down pat” yet, but I’m hopefully making progress. 🙂 God bless you in your family ministry and in your church ministry!

  2. Haha… What timing this was for me!!! I couldn’t agree more!… But…. I still let myself and my family get to that “breaking point” every so often, and im there right now! The demands of ministry can take over very quickly IF you let it. I’ve been soo burdened about that lately, as we have been too overloaded lately and it’s now catching up. I “intentionally” gave myself rest last night… But it’s “up and at em” again tonight… And won’t stop or even slow down again until next week… So here I am… Exhausted beyond and don’t have time to just sit and color with my kids… And laundry is piled up. Shame on me! Thanks for the reiteration on this topic, it was like God was telling me, “I’m talking to YOU! Are you listening?!” Thanks Leah!

    1. Shonda, I can completely relate with your comments!! And God has been working in me about rest too…I have much to learn. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to be an encouragement!

  3. Just what I needed to read today, Leah. I too often am guilty of waiting until God has to literally “take me down” before I stop and just rest. (Sometimes my husband has to do it for me, taking me by the elbow, sitting me down in my room, and shutting the door.) We are such a go, go, go culture, hardly stopping to “Be Still”. Oh how we need that refreshment, stillness, and rest!

    1. Yes…sometimes that “go,go,go” culture irritates me…I hate feeling so rushed that I miss blessings or moments that were made to be treasured. It’s a constant ‘push back’ against the grain to be still and know that our God IS.
      Glad it was a blessing, Mary Ellen. Been praying for you!

  4. I needed THIS today. I’m so tired from the move and trying to quickly adapt and make new friends…being real with complete strangers is exhausting so I am spending the next two days to try to rest! Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Ah, sounds like you have “people overload”- the mark of a true introvert. 🙂 Hope you are able to get some rest and refreshment this week!

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