Millennial Monday: Finding Rest – Wisdom from the Smoky Mountains
EDITOR’S NOTE: While regular Millennial Monday blogger Emily Howsden is away on maternity leave, Millennial Monday will continue as guest bloggers fill in over the next couple of weeks.
The air was clean and crisp. The sounds were devoid of cars and people. The sky was littered with stars, and I had no cell service.
The Great Smoky Mountains gave me the opportunity (however forced) to disconnect and look upward. Not “look upward” in the metaphysical sense, but quite literally. It was so dark that I could scarcely see anything around me except the stars above, which were in staggering abundance.
If you’re anything like me, when someone asks “How are you?” your immediate response – before you can think of an actual response – is “tired,” even if you aren’t tired!
Either 1) the actuality of my state of exhaustion is so evident in me that it precedes any other state, or 2) I desire others to recognize that I am working so hard that I can only be “tired.” Either way, I find myself describing my state of being as a result of my lack of rest and focus.
Additionally, if you’re anything like me, moments granted where rest may be achieved are overcome by mobile notifications that need to be checked and stories that need to be watched. Though my rest in the Smokies was “forced” by way of stripping all distractions from me, it was so incredibly welcomed as soon as I stopped thinking about ways to circumvent it.
Without even noticing, how often do we deprive ourselves of rest? You may say, “I rest on the weekends while watching sports” or “I find it restful to nap and not leave my house,” but maybe defining rest is helpful to understanding rest.
Think about rest in two areas: general rest, and Sabbath. I know, sabbath sounds strangely formal, but I appreciate that Adam Mabry in “The Art of Rest” defines it simply as “a time of rest, holy to the Lord.” From that definition, all the things in my do-this-for-rest” category fail to meet the qualification of Sabbath, and I’m not using “sabbath” as a synonym for “Sunday.”
Looking at my drive to the top of Balsam Mountain, I was in the middle of general rest – a vacation. However, I only experienced a time of sabbath when the night came to an end, dinner was finished and it was time to sleep. Honestly, while initially put-off by “no service” on my phone, I was overtaken by the beauty around me. In that moment, I stopped and focused on the Lord outside of a “quiet time” for the first time in a while, and just splendored at the magnificence of His creation around me.
In fact, the words of Psalm 8:3-4 resounded in my head: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” (Emphasis mine)
I was overwhelmed that as my eyes continued to adjust to the darkness, I saw more and more stars…each given a name and remembered by the Lord. I was overwhelmed, understanding that the same God, who created those stars in their multitude, cares deeply for me. My time of general rest turned sabbath, and my state of exhaustion turned to reverence.
Realizing powerful sabbath rest made me convicted, not that I look for ways to avoid such rest, but that I often fail to seek such rest. Mabry hits the nail on the head when he wrote: “We’re quite happy to sing and study about the God who rules. We just don’t believe what we say enough to regularly lay down our rule. We creatures, made to co-create with God, have so idolized our creative works that we refuse to honor God as the Creator. Yet that’s exactly what Sabbath rest is about.”
It’s powerful to know AND internalize the compelling truth that the God of the universe who made those beautiful stars littering the sky, and the nightly symphony of sound heard even in the most remote of location, also made you. He made you (Psalm 139:13) and understands you more that you understand you. He knows when you need a sabbath (probably right now) and he knows how you must sabbath.
What’s more, He isn’t surprised that you’re tired! Genesis 3 gives a hint that man will spend his life working, and even Hebrews 4 reminds us that Jesus is not surprised by any moment in our lives because He was tested as we are, but remained without sin. Our Father desires through our lives as Christians for us to rest, and for that rest to be rooted and built-up in Him (Col. 2:6-7).
I’m rested and eager for rest; I’ve sabbathed and am eager for sabbath. Just as we look forward to a weekend, let us look forward to a time set apart as holy for the Lord, and may He find us faithful.
1. What are two physical things that keep you from sabbath rest?
- Take a moment to ask the Lord 1) for forgiveness, and 2) for release from “things.”
2. When you try to sabbath, what are frequent thoughts that overtake the moment?
- Take a moment to ask the Lord 1) for guidance in those issues, and 2) for focus.
3. When you try to carve sabbath rest into your schedule, what are its main oppositions?
- Take a moment to ask the Lord 1) for wisdom, and 2) for courage to make sabbath a priority.