Learning to Rest
I write to you today from the lobby of a Ramada Inn in Ft. Walton, Florida. I’m on a somewhat last-minute beach trip with a friend. We plopped ourselves onto the white sand for two days on this long weekend with no agenda, lots of snacks and what turned out to be expired sunscreen. We are “resting.” At least, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I have vowed to take a breath between leaving my job and diving into My Writing Thing. A couple of weeks to breathe deeply, read, look at the water and renew my mind in preparation for a transition.
You would think I would be really good at resting right now. I don’t have a work email to attend to. I’m not anticipating the craziness that is Tuesday after a holiday weekend. No one will need me to answer questions or send them things. I’m not getting calendar alerts for meetings happening this week. I can say my body has been resting this weekend. I have done nothing but lie or sit in sand. Yet my mind is a different story. It’s been running. Running in the wrong directions: ahead and behind. Running anywhere and doing anything but stopping to recognize the present moment.
I don’t think many of us are good at true rest. I actually wonder if it’s something that we as a culture have forgotten how to do. True rest lies in the present. I’m not resting on a beach if I keep wondering about my future or replaying past conversations and events in my head.
It’s not surprising I’ve been revisiting my past this weekend. I’ve said this before but it’s ever true today, I think we go to the past because we know what happens there. It’s comfortable. And when you’re in a time of change and things aren’t as clear, you hurry back to familiar scenes and faces. So these past two days, I have been gripped by a nostalgia for my past. I’ve thought about the places I’ve lived and the people I knew there and I’ve missed them and I’ve wished I was back. Back to being 22, in school and certain of more than I am certain of now.
Maybe you do this too? Who wants to squint at an uncertain future when you can see and hear with clarity the voices of your past? On the other hand, who wants to stunt her own growth and refuse to take leaps in the dark because she can’t turn her head around to face the future?
I’ve been playing “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger over and over since her album released last Tuesday. I listen to it for these words:
Come out of hiding
You’re safe here with Me
There’s no need to cover what I’ve already seen
I’ll be your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea
And I will illuminate everything
God as our lighthouse is a powerful image. If He is our lighthouse, He will point the light in the direction we are to go, and I bet that light won’t be pointed backwards. I bet He isn’t aiming to illuminate our past for us. Maybe for clarity’s sake, but not so we can find our way back there. If we are to arrive safely to shore, His light will point us ahead. And I believe it’s in His light, that we will find rest.
Exactly! Well said.
Yes! Me too. I don’t know how to truly rest. Well said! 🙂
Great post! I’ll have to reread this next Sunday, as I’ve been having trouble resting. The idea that sticks with me most is “true rest lies in the present.”
It makes me think about God’s words being compared to a “lamp unto our feet.” I heard a pastor say one time that a lamp would really only illuminate a few yards ahead of you. Which makes me think being with God is something very attached to the present. So maybe “resting in God” was meant to be an exercise done in the present, too. Great words!
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