The doctor pointed to the black and white picture, circling the point of his pen around the clogged artery.
“This is where the blood isn’t flowing. It’s blocked, and if we don’t intervene there may be severe damage to the heart.”
Stress does that, you know. It blocks life-giving blood to the place that pumps it out into the body. It causes build-up slowly over time, and the victim don’t even realize he’s a walking bombing just waiting to explode.
And while I’m not the one sitting on a cot in the cardiac intensive care unit, I might as well be.
Because I don’t know how to rest, and stress has become my constant companion.
I’m gaining weight again. What should I make for dinner? Have I written tomorrow’s post? I haven’t spent any time today playing with Carissa. How are we going to pay the medical bills? How early do I have to get up tomorrow? I haven’t worked out in three weeks…
The normal stress that is part of life on earth begins to block the life-giving words of life from my heart. It happens gradually, and I don’t even notice the slowing trickle until it’s often late. I snap. I break down. I have a different kind of heart-attack, the kind that’s flooded with tears and harsh words, regrets and broken dreams.
And I’m reminded of our pastor’s words just last week:
We rest to remind ourselves to trust God and celebrate what He has created so beautifully. If I don’t rest, it’s either an issue of greed or distrust.
Greed because I need to do more to get more and be more or distrust because in my heart of hearts I don’t think God is going to come through.
I don’t like to rest.
I was raised to be tough, to show no sign of weakness, to give bystanders no cause for gossip. So I do it all myself, pushing myself harder and farther, pretending the Energizer Bunny and I are made from the same stuff.
But we’re not. And when we pretend that we can keep going without rest, we’re setting ourselves up for a spiritual heart-attack.
God created our bodies to need rest, to require sleep, to force us to take breaks from our activity and replenish with food and water. He could have made us robots to work non-stop, but He gave us a structure that lends itself to a rhythm of rest: day for work and night for rest; 6 days of work and 1 of rest; 6 years of harvest and 1 of rest; 49 years of lending and 1 of jubilee (rest).
God created humans in His image and calls us to mirror Him in our lives. He breathed life from His own life into us. And yet He gifts us the permission to rest:
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
When I rest in God’s presence, the sin, the worries, the condemnation begins to melt away and my heart can beat anew.
Rest is a good gift from a gracious God who calls us into dependence and trust. It’s His way of reminding us that we were not created to work non-stop.
Because rest, play, and sleep are all forms of abiding in Christ, too.
Day 13 Challenge: When’s the last time you rested? Like, really rested? Not just slept because you couldn’t go on anymore, not read a book because you had to, not fiddled on your smartphone while the kids played outside, but really cease striving and worrying and working? Even if it’s only ten minutes, make today that day.
Father, this is so hard for me. I’ve made an idol of work, drawing my identity and significance from it. Guide my heart toward rest in you. Help me to enter your rest and stop trying to prove myself to You or anyone else. Teach me to find rest in You, and may those stressers in my heart melt away as I rest in Your presence.