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What’s the Point of Rest?

What’s the Point of Rest?

It started when I was only five years old. My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Salmon. And she was wonderful. Everything was great that year…well, almost everything. There was one thing that happened every day and I always dreaded it – mandatory nap time. I didn’t like having to lie down in the middle of the day. And if I’m honest, I didn’t even know how to fall asleep. So I would lay there quietly, just waiting until it was over and we could get back to the good stuff. I didn’t look forward to it at all. I still don’t look forward to rest.

I didn’t watch tons of movies growing up, mostly because I don’t like sitting still. That hasn’t changed much over the past 40 years. In fact, what I’m doing right now – I learned this message in the same way I learn all of my messages – by going on a 6 to 7 mile walk on Friday mornings. Most Sunday afternoons I am spent after teaching all morning. While I know I need to rest my mind, I prefer not to rest my body…so I go on a long walk or a run most Sunday afternoons.

When Shauna and I travel to a place with a beautiful beach, it takes a ton of discipline for me to just sit there. After what seems like 2 hours, I ask if we can go for a walk. The reality is, it’s only been about 20 minutes that we’ve been sitting.

I recently spent a couple of days with an executive coach. Before we met, he asked me to reach out to a handful of people close to me and ask them this question – “What are Ben’s gifts, strengths, and superpowers?” I called Shauna to ask her this question. Our kids were in the car with her at the time. Here’s how they answered the question, “What are dad’s gifts, strengths, and superpowers?” “He gets things done; he doesn’t waste time.”

Because of how I’m wired, I don’t always see the point of rest. I believe God has given me a grand mission for my life and I don’t want to waste time. I am driven, which I find really helpful because of all that I feel called to do. Right now I have a ton of energy and I want to put it to good use.

And did I mention how much I love being productive? And I enjoy living on adrenaline at times and the dopamine hits that come with achievement and accomplishment. During the first 10 days of August, I experienced adrenaline and dopamine like I hadn’t in a long time.

I spent the first part of that week coming up with every teaching series we’ll do at Epic throughout 2024 – talk about accomplishment! I was so grateful to God for how things were coming together. On Monday of that week, I received the first potential cover designs for my book – that was incredibly exciting to me! On Friday of that week, I had the chance to meet with someone I’ve been wanting to meet with for a really long time. It was a fascinating conversation and what I felt like was an answer to prayer. That evening I was in the home of a friend who was hosting all of the church leaders in San Francisco who are doing Alpha this fall. That was exhilarating and really special! Shauna and I stuck around after the event to help our host clean up. I checked my text messages and saw something I had been dreaming of and praying for. It was a message telling me who had agreed to write the foreword for my book. The three of us toasted and celebrated. I could barely sleep that night, but who cares? I had so many exciting things running through my mind. The next week was full, but also full of so many wonderful things – things that when I do them, I think, “This is what God made me to do.”

On Friday, August 11, I spent the morning learning my message and I was supposed to be off the rest of that day and all of Saturday. I had not planned well for rest or recreation or replenishment. If I’m honest, when I was feeling so wonderful, I didn’t think I needed to have a plan for rest. But on that Friday afternoon, I hit a wall. I didn’t even know where to go. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to stop even if my calendar told me to stop. And for the next few days, I was not myself. In the midst of my excitement, I had not cared enough about the rest I needed to sustain this life I feel so called to. Today, I need us to talk about the thing that I don’t naturally like to think about. I’m calling this message, “What’s the Point of Rest?”

Do you care enough about the rest that’s needed to sustain the life you’ve been called to live?

While today’s message is able to stand on its own, to get the full picture – you’ll want to go back and hear the message I did last week, called, “Can Work Satisfy?”

Genesis 1:31-2:3 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

If rest is possible for the God who is holding the whole world together, then it must be possible for us too.

I’ll be the first to admit that God isn’t resting for all of the reasons we need to rest. God doesn’t get tired; we do. God isn’t in danger of running on fumes; we are. God doesn’t know what it’s like to be exhausted; we know it well. So why is God resting? He’s resting because He wants to enjoy the good work that’s been done. He’s resting to declare “that’s enough for now.” And he’s resting to show us what’s going to be required for us to do what He’s called us to do on this earth.

What can be included as a form of rest? Sleep seems obvious. Doing nothing may come to mind. Binge watching your favorite show might be what you consider to be rest. Perhaps reading a book that has nothing to do with your work. We’ll get into how rest is something for all of us while realizing that we all need different kinds of rest and maybe even different amounts of rest. But as people who are seeking to orient our entire lives around Jesus, we want to think about rest like he did. Beyond the word “rest” – I want us to be thinking about these words today: restoration, renewal, and replenishment. Soul rest can come with physical rest, but they don’t have to go together.

Mark 1:32-39 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

This sounds so counterintuitive, but here’s what’s happening. Jesus had to forego sleep to be able to get rest for his soul. We see Jesus sleeping elsewhere in Scripture so we know he did prioritize physical rest. But here, with all of the demanding ministry he’s been doing, he’s depleted. He needs the Father to restore, renew, and replenish his soul.

“What we assume is a normal lifestyle is absolute insanity to the God-given nature of our heart and soul.” John Eldredge, Get Your Life Back

Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

What we do with rest declares what we believe about God and what we believe about ourselves.

“What would it look like to live at a different pace? What if there were a rhythm of life that could instead enable us to deeply connect with God, a lifestyle not dominated by hurry and exhaustion but by margin and joy? As long as we remain enslaved to a culture of speed, superficiality, and distraction, we will not be the people God longs for us to be.” Rich Villodas, The Deeply Formed Life

Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

What keeps us from prioritizing rest for our souls:

-We see ourselves as the main provider for our lives.

-We constantly feel like we don’t have enough and that we haven’t done enough.

-We believe we’re smart enough, strong enough, or energetic enough that we don’t need rest like most human beings.

Some of you might say, “But, Ben, I really care about doing great work.”

If you really care about your work, you should really care about your rest.

Every single one of us needs a rhythm of rest. That being said, I do think this will look different for all of us. Some of us have more capacity than others. Some of us need more time to be replenished, while others of us need less. Some of us need more frequent rest than others of us. Some of us are in a season of life where we both feel like we need more rest and like we don’t have time to rest.

Based on how God has wired you and your current season of life, what are the things that restore, renew, and replenish you?

Options. People, Places, Activities.

Schedule them – today! Prioritize these times just as much as you would prioritize a significant meeting or project at work.

I used to think rest meant just doing nothing and I hate just doing nothing.

“I need an activity that engages my mind so it does not drift back to work…If you do not prioritize a redemptive release, the Enemy will always be there to offer a destructive one.” Ben Stuart, Rest & War

There’s something else I believe about rest:

As you receive heavier assignments from God, rest will become even more crucial for your life.

And remember, I’m talking about that soul rest that comes from union with God. You’ll need even more margin than you did before. Think about Jesus. There’s never been an assignment given to any human that’s as significant as the one he was given. He was basically given three years to accomplish the whole plan. And yet notice this from Luke:

Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

The more demanding the mission became, the more Jesus prayed.

The more popular Jesus became, the more he withdrew to be alone with the Father.

Hebrews 4:9-10 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rest from their works, just as God did from his.

Resting in God is how you enter the kingdom. It’s what trust in Jesus looks like. Will you trust Jesus today and rest in what He did for you?

Epic Church – I care deeply about the work God has called me to, the work He has called you to, and the work He has called us to collectively as a church. Because we care about this work, we want to care about rhythms of restoration, renewal, and replenishment. I want to go the distance, don’t you? Would you pray for yourself, others, and our whole church to embrace this.

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