Give It a Rest!
"This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’" Jeremiah 6:16a (NIV)
I stared out the window, my eyes filling with tears as the flight attendant gave her familiar pre-flight safety drill. It was the third time in a two-week period I had heard the same spiel. Minutes later, as the plane raced down the runway, I thought about the irony of the moment.
I was headed to a women’s event to share a message on prioritizing the one thing we all need — time with Jesus. Yeah, right, I thought to myself. If the planning committee had followed me around for the past couple of months, they would have canceled the invitation and organized a Vicki Courtney book-burning.
Who was I to speak to women on the topic of finding rest for your souls when my own soul was on life support?
For as long as I can remember, I have been busy. As a young girl, I signed up for enough school clubs and extracurricular activities to keep me hopping every day of the week. It wasn’t enough to be on the cheer squad; I juggled class officer duties, student council and a part-time job. Oh, and homework. Come to think of it, never mind about the homework.
The only pace I knew was breakneck, and I carried it with me to college and eventually into my marriage and family life.
At times, I would make bold declarations to slow down. After I met a book deadline. After a busy season of speaking engagements came to a close. After my kids wrapped up a chaotic school year filled with activities. Yet, when after finally arrived, I had already filled the empty block of time with more activity.
When I wasn’t busy, I felt restless and ill at ease. When I was busy, I felt weary and in need of rest. It was a never-ending vicious cycle. I hated the pace, yet at the same time, I needed the pace.
It wasn’t until I hit a wall several years ago and suffered extreme burnout that I began to finally take a closer look at what was really going on beneath my habit of chronic busyness.
I was beyond quick-fix remedies like the familiar tips you might see in a magazine or devotional to "de-clutter your life." Trust me, I had tried them all, and the results were always short-lived. My turning point came when I realized that my busyness was not the result of a scheduling problem but rather, a sin problem.
Somewhere along the way, I had based my worth and identity in performing, achieving, doing and serving. Ironically, true identity is found by resting in God and being conformed to His image, not running ourselves ragged in an attempt to find it on our own.
What robs your soul of rest? Unless we take a deeper look at the source of our chronic busyness and get honest with ourselves about the underlying motives, we will only be treating the symptoms instead of the problem. Until then, we might make minor tweaks and adjustments here and there to reduce our load, but our efforts will only provide a short-term solution.
When we say "yes" to too many other things, we are actually saying "no" to God. Which path will you choose at the crossroads of busyness and rest? God has shown us the "good way," but it’s up to us to walk in it.
Father, thank You for showing us the good way in order that we might have rest for our souls. Give us the courage to change paths if the one we’re on has left us with little time for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 11:28-30, "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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)
Psalm 46:10, "He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’" (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is chronic busyness a problem for you? If so, are you ready to stage an intervention on your life and take steps to redeem rest for your weary soul? List three specific steps you can take to begin the process.