Keys to Finding True Peace and Rest
I am more than 25 years out from High School, yet I still have nightmares about it. Is that weird? It’s usually the same themes… caught wearing my pjs at the bus stop- again, can’t get my locker open, late to class, must give a presentation and I’m not prepared or I’m just stark naked and everyone is looking at me! Says a lot about my Type A personality, doesn’t it?
Now that I am older and have traversed different phases and stages of life, my subconscious has added new nightmares about kids getting in car accidents, houses burning, losing jobs, no income and the like.
On these torturous nights of fitful sleep, I wake with a start, heart pounding out of my chest, cortisol pumping through my veins and a sick feeling in my stomach that I just want to wither up and disappear from the face of the earth. I feel like I want to hide from the normal difficulties of life.
Needless to say, there is not much physical, emotional or spiritual rest taking place on those nights.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, the Bible has taught me along my faith journey that Jesus said in the book of Matthew, “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.”
But life is so HARD! We have so many obligations and responsibilities. What do you mean it will be easy and restful?
On top of that, Jesus also said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Other translations use the word “abundant” to describe the full life promised.
When I picture an abundant life that is easy and restful, I think of someone who must be on vacation. Not unlike many of the seasonal tourists that visit my town. They come unencumbered by worry. They are light and free, finding comfort and rest with little effort.
How does this help my soul today in the midst of a deadline packed family calendar?
I have been told you can have peace and joy in the middle of your busy-ness. Is that true?
Through trial and error, I think it might be.
Soul rest does not come automatically and there are some steps and parameters to adhere to.
In order for you to gain the peace and rest described in God’s word you would have to first know God. Knowing God does not mean, knowing about him or being a regular church attender, but truly knowing him by accepting and believing that he paid the sin debt for your life by sacrificing his own perfect life on a Roman cross a couple century ago. This belief initiates a personal relationship with God that only grows through time and effort as with any relationship.
As you strive to build this relationship with God, you get to know him by reading the book he designed for us as a life manual, the Bible. You learn to align your way of living with his gentle life guidelines that lead to better decisions, stable relationships, AND more peace, rest and abundance as described above.
So, first we must know God personally and second, we align our lives with his much better direction and way of living. These two steps in general will lead to rest.
The practical pointers below may help you make a more tangible daily plan to accomplish these steps.
Each day is a blank page. How that day proceeds and what you accomplish depends on many things; time management, appropriate planning, mental focus, physical stamina, mood, etc. I find, my most successful days are when I let go of the reins and ask God to direct the day showing me exactly what I should be doing, who I should be talking to, and what projects to focus on. When I do this, I go into the day with an attitude that nothing will happen today by mistake. It all has a directed purpose because I am allowing God to be in charge.
My online calendar is a colorful menagerie of appointments, events, family duties, household chores and ministry opportunities. I always schedule first the important things like time with my spouse, kid events, pertinent household chores and especially time for SELF. Once scheduled I know these will be addressed.
There are a million opportunities out there for you to take advantage of and so many of them are wonderful! But heed caution. Don’t add anything to your schedule that you are not absolutely sure God wants there. Prayerfully consider each opportunity and whether you really have time for it. Will it serve your life purposes and benefit you and those most dear? Evaluate each and every one.
Finally, you must use a measure of flexibility. I have done all the steps above and sat down to work the daily plan just to succumb to exhaustion and need to take a 30-minute nap or have a typically quiet teenager sit down and open up about an issue they are having. These are very appropriate interruptions. Use discernment throughout the day to gauge these diversions. This is when I realize that my plan was created mostly by my limited human mind and I can’t see the bigger picture. I do my best to plan wisely and prayerfully but allow these important disruptions because I believe they are God sent and his plan is more important than mine.
Using the flexible mindset and keeping God’s big picture in view allows me to keep from getting frustrated when I am deterred from the schedule. This is the peace and joy I can find throughout the busy day because it helps me feel that I am doing more important work because God sent it my way. I remember my true purpose of getting to know his awesome character and bring him pleasure and joy by aligning my ways with his.
Outside of your daily schedule and small rests within, what larger activities bring you rest? If you don’t know… you seriously need to take a sit-down and make a list. This is a must!
For me I find hiking and walking outdoors extremely refreshing. Some call this “forest bathing”. Visualize yourself showering in the sunshine, fresh air and vivid colors of nature. Focused family time, like our weekly pizza and movie night, is another oasis in my week. I absolutely treasure my reading time right before bed. I have some favorite story books that I go back to because they relax me and prepare me for sleep. My daily routine is also a comfort and stable peace for me.
Maybe for you it’s a run, a coffee date, a hard workout disengaged from the world through headphones, a social gathering full of people and fun or a salt bath while listening to classical music. Find the rest activities that feed your soul and spirit.
With these pointers you can find peace, joy and an abundant life within the chaos of work and family as well as in the larger refueling activities you plan into your week.
Do you need to give your schedule, or your life for that matter, an overhaul? What needs to be taken out? What needs to be added? There is an abundant life waiting for you if you follow these steps.