Just as we have been called to work for the Lord, we have been called to rest before Him, to rest and be refreshed in body, soul, and spirit. Refreshing the body requires a cessation of physical activity. To refresh the spirit is to drink deeply from the Word of God and to breathe deeply in the atmosphere of Heaven, the holy Presence of God.
How do we refresh the mind?
Often we do it with a pleasant diversion. A mental diversion is not the same as a distraction. A diversion is like a temporary detour on the road we are traveling. It will lead to pleasant or interesting surprises and will eventually bring us back to the road to our destination. A distraction is more like a wrong turn that takes us nowhere, shows us nothing, and leads us far from our destination. A diversion is time well spent. A distraction is time wasted.
Why? Because God made our minds to never stop running. Awake or asleep, our busy brains never stop processing information, (How else can an unfamiliar noise in the house wake us from a deep sleep?) dealing with our fears, and processing our plans. The only way to give the mind rest from all the heavy lifting it must constantly do is to divert it toward something that is equally fascinating but absolutely inconsequential.
When someone goes fishing, the mind is diverted from crucial the daily tasks and is
- occupied with the business of fishing,
- absorbed in the beauty of the water and sky, and
- fully engaged in the demands of landing the limit.
Whether we catch fish or not is not the point. The family will not starve if we return home empty handed. The same can be said for hunting, golf, tennis, hiking, camping, or vegging out in the recliner watching a sporting event or a great classic film. The mind is engaged so it is happy to
- buzz along doing the math,
- supervise the movement of hands and feet, legs and arms,
- remember the lyrics of the songs,
- measure and admire the ironies of the story,
- hit that little white ball better than you did last time,
- climb that next rise on the mountain path, or
- contemplate the vastness of the sea stretching before us to the horizon.
This mental activity is untroubled by the life and death issues we face all week, so that part of the soul—the worry part, the obsessive part, the responsible part—gets a break, a much needed break.
Another Gift from God
Because we work hard all week, the Lord is pleased to give us interests that ease the emotional strain of the responsibility we carry while letting our ceaseless minds continue to chug along. In the process we are refreshed. When we follow this little detour back to the road God has given us, we bring our whole, refreshed humanity to the tasks before us. Rest is a part of the work He has called us to do. We pray for the anointing of His Spirit so that the work of the Kingdom, and our part in it, gets done.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Lord Jesus, Your lovingkindness is, indeed, better than life. Thank You for making rest such a noble and necessary thing. Let Your call to rest drown out the fleshly call to busy-ness. Protect us from any hint of a Messiah complex that would lead us to believe that if we leave the frontlines even for a day, the war is lost. What nonsense! You and You alone, Lord Jesus, are Messiah. We are simply Your servants, called to work passionately and thoroughly but not tirelessly. Weariness of the flesh is not sin; it is simply a part of the ordained rhythm of life: work-rest; work-rest. As we rest before You today, letting our active minds explore paths of fun and amusement, we know that You are renewing our strength and soon we will soar again on eagle’s wings. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Near to the Heart of God
Words and Music: Cleland B. McAfee
1. There is a place of quiet rest Near to the heart of God,
A place where sin cannot molest, Neart to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee Near to the heart of God.
2. There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God,
A place where we our Savior meet, Near to the heart of God.
3. There is a place of full release Near to the heart of God,
A place where all is joy and peace, Near to the heart of God.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved