You know that feeling at the end of the day when you finally take out the ponytail you’ve been wearing for hours? There’s a dull ache and it doesn’t feel all that great, but you know it won’t linger for long. You rub your head where the rubber band once was, massaging away the tenderness, and snuggle into your pillow. Ahhh…it’s time to rest!
The thing about rest of all kinds, from the quick midafternoon nap to the soul-deep variety that we’re after here, is that it requires an undoing, a releasing, surrender. You trade in something (time, productivity, a nice hairdo), trusting that what you’ll receive in the end will be so much better than what you gave up.
Often the things that are tangling you up and keeping you from real rest are the very things you’re clinging to. They are the beliefs and patterns of behavior you lean into, thinking they are what you need to be safe, provided for, significant, and successful. This is a paradox—when we let go of these unfruitful efforts to prove ourselves worthy, we make room for God to prove himself worthy and in turn, set our souls at ease.
The rest Jesus invites you to experience is not a onetime act, like taking a nap or a vacation or a mid-workout water break. Rather, it’s the calm inner disposition of a secure identity that no longer feels the need to self-protect and self-promote. Jesus opens his arms and makes this curious exchange: your anxious thoughts for his perfect peace. This is an invitation to take a real rest.
As we accept Jesus’s invitation to find real rest, we have to start with surrender. When we release our tight grip on our lives, we allow old patterns and wrong ways of thinking to fall away. This letting go makes way for new, beautiful, abundant growth.
The rest Jesus offers is true rest for our souls that we can find only when we let go of unfruitful efforts to prove ourselves worthy and make room for God to bring forth new life. We participate in this growth by letting go of our mistaken beliefs about where identity, purpose, and belonging are found and allow him to restore our hearts to the truth.”
God, I long for a deep inner disposition of rest. If that requires surrender, then here I am, ready to let go. Will you shine a light on the places that need adjusting in my heart and actions? Help me see where and why I turn to the things of the world to satisfy longings that only you can fill. Please give me the patience, insight, and determinationto release, to trust, and to let you chisel away the hurts, fears, and trappings that are keeping me from true, abundant life. My hands are open.
The above excerpt is from the newly released book Living Freely and Lightly by Emily Lex. Join Emily on a journey of spiritual discovery as together you explore what it looks like for you to live freely and lightly, accept Jesus’s invitation to recover your life, experience real rest, and learn His unforced rhythms of grace. Learn more about Living Freely and Lightly.