I don’t know about you, but I feel tired. When people ask how I am, I am inclined to answer, “busy,” and hurry on with my life. Between work commitments, personal commitments, church commitments, weddings, hen parties, travel, I’m starting to sympathise with Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings when I said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter over too much bread.”
It feels ungrateful to be complaining about these things when so many of them were not allowed for a large portion of 2020 and 2021. And on one level, I’m delighted these things are back. I just wish they weren’t all happening at the same time.
At times like this I’ve come to appreciate the importance of rest. I grew up in a home that kept Sunday as a day of rest. Sometimes enforced rest like this felt unnecessarily strict, but as I’ve got older and life has got busier, I’ve come to appreciate taking a day to stop, focus on God and his Word, to spend time with his people.
But one of the best things about resting, whether that’s setting apart a specific day every week, or taking a week’s holiday, or trying to get my eight hours of sleep every night, is that it reminds me that I am not in control. I can close my eyes and drift off and the world will continue to spin – and what a relief that is. In seasons of stress and busyness, we can follow David’s example and say,
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. (Psalm 3:5)
My troubles are not as great as David’s were when he wrote this psalm: my son is not trying to take over my throne and no one is trying to kill me (as far as I know, at least). But still, God sees the little things that worry me. He assures me again and again in his Word that he will provide, that he will be with me, that I can trust him.
God sees the little things that worry me. He assures me again and again in his Word that he will provide, that he will be with me, that I can trust him.
Sometimes, though, I fail to remember these promises. I hurry on as if it all relies on me. As my schedule fills up, I prioritise other things over reading my Bible. I turn to prayer only as a last resort and – surprise, surprise – things do not improve. I frown more, I sleep worse, I’m less pleasant to those around me. I suspect I’m not alone in this. Indeed, the old favourite, What A Friend We Have in Jesus summarises the problem well:
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
So, when the to–do list feels overwhelming, like I’m in a permanent state of playing catch–up, I will try to remember. I’ll remember the One who spoke to whole universe into being. I’ll remember that he keeps the planets spinning, the sun rising and setting, my heart pumping blood around my body. I’ll remember that he not only gave us his Son, but along with him graciously gives us all things. I’ll remember his infinite love. I’ll remember that I can bring all the big things and all the tiny things to him in prayer, that I can call on him and he will answer. And, in that knowledge, I’ll rest.