Ask just about anyone how they are and they will answer one of two ways: “Fine,” or “Busy.”
Busy. That has become the socially acceptable answer. In fact, I think most people would react very negatively if instead of saying “Busy,” I said something like, “I spend most of my time with my wife and kids, meditating on the goodness of God and Who He Is, and find it all very restful.”
When I answer with “Busy” it provides me an escape route, not only from further questions (because I am too busy to consider this conversation), but also from any relational intimacy (again because I am too busy). It is socially acceptable code that allows us to evade deep conversation.
For many if not most of us, it is what we believe to be true as well. We feel busy. We often feel overwhelmed at the amount of things we need to do. We find it hard to rest, and even when we are supposed to be sleeping, some of us find sleep evasive, too.
I find it ironic that busyness seems to be the “norm.” We live in a world where technology has advanced to where we don’t have to leave our home to pay our bills, do our banking, or even send our mail. We also can carry our phones (and even computers) with us. We can do our Christmas shopping while sitting in a restroom. Meals can be bought ready to eat from the grocery (or we can even have groceries delivered to our home). With all these advances in productivity it should give us more time to do the things we long to do, including rest. Yet, we feel more harried than ever before.
The same technologies that are designed to free up our time also become our chains: to work, to school, to any and every thing that would keep our attention for 15 seconds or so. We can literally occupy our minds with disconnected bits of data for 5 seconds at a time all day long and rarely if ever let our minds rest or meditate on things like God’s goodness and grace.
It is with that in mind that I came upon a beautiful scripture in Isaiah 63:14. There God says, “Like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord.” Yes. Cattle on a plain filled with grass do not have to do much to fulfill their needs. Food is readily available and there is no need to walk for miles to accomplish a filling meal. And, where there is much grass there also is a water supply nearby. Ahhh, to be in a place where all our needs are met results in rest.
In contrast, when we fail to recognize that all our needs are met, we cannot rest. And, even though those of us blessed to live in America generally have all our needs and even our wants, we often are caught looking for the “next best thing.” We see someone else with something different than we have and we covet it. We find a reason to complain and not be grateful. We always need yet another new distraction. And, it is from that place of seeking more – “Mammon” – that we feel empty, like a cattle stuck up in the mountains with little food or water. So we wander about, looking for satisfaction.
God gives us rest by His Spirit. Oh that we would be filled with His Spirit and not with the things of this world. If you are finding rest evasive, ask God to fill you with His Spirit and that the fruits of the Spirit would be abundant in your life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In these things there is much rest. Stop trusting in more to satisfy your soul and start trusting in the Lord.