Self-care might sound like a new idea today. There’s so much demand on our time and energy as we try to multi-task (which really isn’t as efficient as it appears, after all!). It used to be that we had more time than money. Now, we don’t seem to have much of either. And as adults are caught in the middle of taking care of ageing parents and their own children at the same time, self-care is becoming more and more important.
But the idea of self-care is anything but new, and I was surprised to consider that it was God himself who first demonstrated this. On the final day of his creation, he rested. I can’t imagine that the Creator expended enough energy to exhaust himself. After all, all he had to do was speak and things came into existence. Yet on the last day, he declared all that he had created to be good and rested.
I think a case could be made that he rested because, after all, he was done; there was no more to do but to enjoy his work. But I think it’s important that we not underestimate his example. When it’s time to work, we work. But we also need to recognize that when the work is done, it’s time to rest.
The 23rd Psalm reminds us that “the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” I found it fascinating to discover that sheep don’t just get tired and rest on their own. It’s the shepherd who makes sure that the environment is safe and the sheep are free from fear, pests, and danger so the sheep can rest. Unless the shepherd does his job, the sheep cannot rest.
Jesus continued to show the importance of rest throughout his ministry. After hours of teaching and ministering to the need of others, he would go off on his own to rest and pray. And isn’t that the best combination? Rest and prayer! Both provide us with the resources we need to move forward.
In Matthew 8:24, we find that not even a great storm could keep Jesus from a good sleep: “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.”
Our Lord extends the same invitation for rest to us today in 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.”
Why would rest be so important to Christians? I believe it’s because a tired spirit is a weak spirit. And a weak spirit is vulnerable to Satan’s temptations. What poor decisions have you made when you’ve been tired? I know that when I have failed to plan and am tired, I don’t eat right. If I come home tired enough, you can bet we’ll have fast food for dinner – not the best choice financially or nutritionally.
I’ve found that rest is incredibly important and is most powerful when I combine it with prayer.
How do you rest? Share your ideas!