There is a price to be paid for our chronic exhaustion. For some people it’s apparent in the here and now: fleeting joy, fragmented relationships. Sometimes it comes and goes: bouts of sleepless nights, depression, illness. Some people seemingly sail through their overload, but in the end 5, 15 or 30 years are extracted from their lives.
What’s the cost of your overload?
Is it worth the price tag?
Ask Yourself Honestly
Three important questions come to mind when I take a look at the future state of my rest and unrest.
What do I need?
What do I want?
Am I willing to pay the price?
What do I need? A lot. The dentist tells me I need to floss. My doctor tells me I need to lose 15 pounds. The government tells me I need to pay my taxes. My kids tell me I need to dye the gray out of my hair.
Since our basic needs for clean water, food, safety and shelter are typically met, most of my needs are really a matter of wants. My wants are driven by 1) my pursuit of a reward or 2) my desire to avoid negative consequences.
Seeking the reward or suffering the consequence of flossing (or not flossing), dieting/exercising or dyeing my hair have not yet risen to the top of my to do list. Paying taxes is not a want, but I seek to avoid the painful consequences, so I am willing to pay the price of seeing that it gets done.
The real question behind needs and wants in modern society is: Am I willing to pay the price?
There is a price to be paid for our exhaustion.
There is a price to be paid for our restoration.
Rest does not come free.
It requires a radical revision of thinking and beliefs. It demands an alteration of how life unfolds. The cost is high. It’s painful to face the reality of our own limits. It’s brutal to disappoint others and perhaps, even more brutal to disappoint ourselves. But the consequences of not attending to our basic needs for rest are staggering. The rewards are out of this world.
The first step I’d like you to consider is a very short inventory and assessment. James A. Garfield once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it might make you miserable.” This inventory is short. Very short. I hate tests. I hate the time they take. I also recognize test anxiety. When I take a test I know what an inventory is looking for so authentic results can be easily skewed. I’ve kept this in mind in case you’re like me.
Are you happy? (Joy, yes. But are there things in your life that make you happy?)
Are you healthy?
Are you holy? (Think fruit. Self-control, patience, goodness, love . . .)
Are you whole? (How wide is the gap between your public self and private world?)
The real key to this four-question assessment is to hand it off to someone who knows you well. It may give you a more accurate (however painful) assessment. I double dutch dare you. It might even launch a very intriguing conversation.
Place a check mark in front of every question that is 100% true. This is a snapshot of your life today, not all time and eternity. It gives you information about this moment in time.
- ____ In the last 4 weeks I’ve enjoyed 4 days off—days that were refreshing and care-free . . . with minimal “work” around the house.
- ____ This last week I’ve had five nights of 7-8 hours of sleep.
- ____ I experience the Presence of God on a regular basis in personal devotions. (I spend much time talking to God, as I do about God each week.)
- ____ I took a full-day of personal retreat in the last 6 months.
- ____ I enjoyed 4 evenings this last week with no out-of-the-home obligations.
- ____ I took all my vacation time last year.
____ Total check marks
Score: 0-3 You are running on the fumes of an empty tank whether you realize it or not. There’s a better way. It’s found in the rhythm—run hard. rest well. A paradigm shift must take place in your heart. Rest is not a sign of weakness. It is a gift, a grace, a rhythm of life for those who surrender all—including the time it takes to rest. The vibrancy of your ministry, the well-being of your soul and the health of your family depend on it.
Score: 4 You are familiar with rejuvenating aspects of rest and renewal (well done good and faithful servant!), but gaps remain. You know how to run hard and you are aware of what it means to rest well. Now take a look at your physical, emotional, spiritual, relational reserves. What are your strengths? Where can you improve? Expand your horizons. What needs attention? Explore how “resting well” will bring new realms of vibrancy to an area where you’re serving with a self-imposed limp.
Score: 5-6 Ah! The life-giving rhythms of rest are established in your life. You have adopted God’s ways and not the worlds. The fruit of well-being is yours to enjoy—and pass along to others. Stay the course. Your life is a walking billboard. Be intentional about sharing the story of your journey into the rhythms of rest. You have a remarkable opportunity to light the way.
Rest. Do you need it? Do you want it? Are you willing to pay the price it demands?
This week, set aside a block of one to three hours to – not work. Plan for it. Anticipate it. Guard it. The only requirement of this time is to do something that brings delight. Splurge on a special cup of coffee. Have lunch with a friend. Make a date with your pillow. Get outside. Turn off your phone. Release yourself from all demands. Step into this time completely, utterly guilt-free. Why?
Because rest is holy.
The first thing God called holy was not himself, the act of worship or the splendor of creation. The first thing God called holy was time set apart to rest (Genesis 2:3).
When I choose to rest, I am participating in what God calls holy.
Rest. Taste and see.
Do you need it? Do you want it? Are you willing to engage in that which is holy?
Note: This post is part of our original series on rest. We are re-posting some of our favorite articles because we believe they’re just as important today as ever. We hope you’re challenged to think of rest in a fresh new way. Would you like to read the post that preceded this one? Click here.