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He Gives to His Beloved Sleep: The Discipline of Rest

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by Laurie Coombs 2 Comments

Discipline of RestHave you ever looked at your ever-increasing to-do list and thought, How in the world am I going to get this done? Or even, Okay, if I work every moment of every day over the next several months, I might be able to do this?

That has been my life lately––or at least that’s been my most frequent temptation. But what’s incredible is that, despite the temptation, God has continually given me grace to resist giving in to this toxic way of thinking and has regularly realigned my thoughts with His. Now, that’s not to say thoughts like these don’t come, but when they do, I’m reminded of the truth.

God has been teaching me many things about time management, but I’d like to focus on one of the most overlooked elements of time management today, and that is rest. At first glance, taking moments of rest seems counterproductive to achieving our goals, but I believe rest is actually one of the most essential and effective components of time management.

A while back, God brought me to Exodus 34:21. It says, “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.” In plowing time and in harvest time.

According to this scripture, God calls us to rest, even in our most busy seasons. Even when the to-dos seem to exceed the time allotted for them. Even when we’re working two jobs to catch up on the bills. Even when it’s our fiscal year-end at work. Even when we’re trying to finish that project we need to present to the board. Even when our kids’ activities pull us in what seems like a thousand different directions. Even when our book is about to launch.

All throughout scripture, we are told to rest. To keep the Sabbath. Under the New Covenant, Jesus is our rest, but as Hebrews 4:9 says, “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Jesus, Himself, went away to rest, and so even this side of Jesus’s coming, rest remains an essential part of how we are to allocate our time.

The discipline of rest displays our trust in God. It’s a demonstration of faith and knowledge that it is ultimately not us who will achieve our purposes, but God will. I absolutely love what Psalm 127:1-2 says:

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

This section of scripture is a picture of our dependence on God who works in and through us. It is not our efforts that will prevail, but God’s––through us. We are not called to toil by grit and might, but must work diligently unto the Lord through His strength and empowerment. There is a time to work, and there is a time to rest. Remember, He gives to His beloved sleep.

Regardless of how busy we are, we must keep the discipline of rest in our lives. This is God’s way, and even though rest may seem to be counterproductive when our to-do list is long, the decision to do things God’s way will never be in vain. When we do things God’s way, we will see results beyond what we can conceive, far greater than we could have worked toward in our own strength. Not to mention that we will have achieved our end without driving ourselves into the ground.

Any thoughts? Share in the comments

  • Jane Rattray

    Thank you for these wise words? Laurie. We struggle to grasp the truth is indeed necessary for real productivity. It is in Hod’s strength, not our own. Thank you got this well written reminder.