Let me ask you a question: When was the last time you experienced true, real, glorious rest?
It is hard to answer, isn’t it? We are so very busy. Just in the last few hours, I got my kids off to school, packed for a speaking trip, ran to a parent-teacher meeting, researched nursing home options for my dad who recently had a stroke, reviewed designs for the house addition we need to build so my parents can move in with us, had lunch with my husband (have I even seen him this week?), and raced to the airport to hop on the plane.
We juggle so many demands that the idea of a life of true rest seems ridiculous. We search for solutions and are told “you just need to slow down.” But while that may be a great solution for a short time, it’s just not realistic for a lifetime!
Yet rest is a promise of Jesus—and in a way that gives hope to every weary woman.
His promise is that finding rest while we are busy is possible.
Look at Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden . . . Take my yoke upon you . . . and you will find rest for your souls.”
A yoke is fastened onto a horse or oxen so it can plow the field in the heat of the day! Jesus doesn’t say “Here, let me take off your yoke and send you back to the barn to find rest.” No! He assures us that we can find rest for our souls—we can feel that sense of peace, and rightness, and a light burden—right in the middle of our normal lives.
So how do we do that? Since I’m a social researcher who studies what will help people and relationships thrive, I looked at what both science and scripture had to say and created a journey for busy women in my new devotional book Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in a Busy Life.
I found several things that make a big difference. Here are two of them:
#1: Shift How You Operate, So You Work With How God Designed You, Rather Than Against It
A yoke is carefully custom-designed to fit that individual animal. Imagine the difficulty if one animal were to take on the yoke that was designed for another. The ground might get plowed, but oh, the pain and strain and heaviness! Oh, the open sores on the aching back! After days and months of this, wouldn’t the animal eventually shy away from the good work of the day?
So often, we are weary and burdened not because of long hours or having too much to do, but because we are taking on things we were never meant to do, or in a way or during a time we were never meant to do them. It’s true that someone needs to be the team mom for volleyball. But if you’re not a detail person, and you’re stressed because you keep losing people’s phone numbers and you hate bugging people about bringing food for tournaments, you’re probably taking on the wrong yoke! Yet you’ll feel true rest for your soul as you do something you truly enjoy, like tapping your creative, crafty genes to create party favors for the end-of-year school party.
#2: Shift Your Perspective Toward What God Wants You To Focus On, Rather Than The Frustrations In Front Of You
In several of my research studies, I found that what we focus on is one of the main reasons for the unneeded stress in our lives—and one of the God-given ways to overcome it. How many times have I told my husband that the dishes don’t go in the washer that way? It’s like he doesn’t even listen. Why does my son dawdle at everything instead of getting ready when I ask him to?! And if my daughter rolls her eyes one more time . . .
These negative things loom large in our eyes. We think about them, ponder them, express frustration about them.
The fact is: what we focus on will change what we observe around us. As we focus on the things that annoy or anger us, we often completely miss some good and wonderful stuff that is just as real . . . and will change how we feel. Yet as we focus on “whatever is lovely” (Philippians 4:8)—those good and true things we like and appreciate—we’ll find ourselves noticing those things more often. And as we do, our negative concerns simply won’t loom as large.
Suppose that instead of asking why your husband loaded the dishwasher that way (again!), you give him a hug and thank him for cleaning up the kitchen. What will happen to your feelings? You’ll feel better! And as you look for the next thing to praise, and the next, you’ll find a whole world of things to be truly grateful for, and you’ll start to wonder why those other things bugged you so much before!
Ladies, this life journey can be busy, but it doesn’t have to be exhausting. Rest is there for the taking—God’s word says so.
Excerpts used with permission of iDisciple Publishers from the book FIND REST by Shaunti Feldhahn.