Rest In Peace, by Clifton R. Smeltzer

Rest is crucial. I’m not just talking about an afternoon nap either.

Without rest our soul becomes burdened and weary. We find ourselves living in survival mode, reacting to life’s circumstances with little room to be proactive in creating positive change in the world around us. Without rest we become hardened to our relationships with God & the people we love.

I find myself in a new season of life that feels both super exciting and overwhelming.

My new baby son, Felix, arrived in March. His birth was immediately followed by a promotion at work where I became a General Manager, a role I’ve never had before in an industry I’ve only been working in since October of last year. This all occurred on the heels of moving into a new house with my family. Also, my wife and I just recently left our church, where I was a worship leader, due to some painful relational issues with leadership and are now attending a new church that we both love. All that to say, a lot has changed, a lot has happened, and it feels like A LOT.

Being the father of two boys is wonderful. I wouldn’t trade my fatherhood role for anything! But while holding my new baby son in my arms this afternoon as he continued crying past the ten minute mark, I think to myself “two kids is probably enough. I know we were planning for three, but two’s enough”.

Being the manager of a hotel is challenging, often fun, but can be seriously grinding even when I’m ‘off work’. I’ve responded to more emails this year than I’ve responded to in the previous 4 years combined, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. My employees seem to enjoy calling me whenever there’s a problem someone doesn’t want to take a few seconds to think through and solve themselves.

Being a husband requires… genius. I’m lacking in this area, but my wife is very merciful and forgiving. She’s also pretty burdened herself with the changes we both face which strain our relationship, as it does for most young parents I’m sure. Staying committed to each other and keeping the reins on our growing family is stretching us, but we’re holding onto faith as life moves forward for us.

The absolute truth is I’ve been so blessed with God’s favor in recent months it’s mind blowing. Everything I’ve mentioned thus far has truly been a blessing in my life and a direct result of God’s unmerited grace, but quite obviously, with great blessing comes great responsibility and more opportunity to become heavy laden with burdens and fatigue. When I fail to manage myself amidst life’s new challenges and the multiplying expectations of people, I find myself fading emotionally and spiritually.

Know this: If you are blessed with the privilege to grow in favor with God, people will expect more of you and responsibilities will increase in your life. God’s favor does not = easy breezy.

Jesus knew this all too well.

When Jesus began performing healing miracles shortly after beginning his earthly ministry, word spread like the Red Sea, and he found himself buried in the needs of people who just kept coming. Can you imagine someone handing you the cure to everyone’s pain and then before you have time to think, people are surrounding you with their expectations?

And it wasn’t just the miracles, but his teachings. No ears had ever heard the glory of God proclaimed from a man’s mouth like they heard from Jesus. Their souls ached for truth, and their bodies ached for healing. Jesus was compassionate and seemingly tireless as he went from place to place on foot, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, healing diseases and changing the world.

But Jesus also rested.

This passage in Luke 5 has been coming to mind lately:

“15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

This verse illustrates a very important truth: the enemy of rest is false rest.

False rest may look like withdrawing and vegging out on a season of your favorite TV show.

False rest may look like flicking through Facebook for the 5th time in the past hour.

False rest may look like going to the fridge and feeding your boredom.

To sum it up, false rest looks like turning to everything but God, the person we should never ignore but still do, and knowing deep down that our soul is weary because of it. I know this because I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. Jesus knew true rest and he found it by withdrawing from the demands of life and turning to the Father, yes even when the needs of people were grasping at him from every angle.

“Where’d Jesus go?”

“We got someone dying over here!”

“My daughter’s tortured by demons and he just walked off!”

Can you hear them?

Jesus knew something we need to understand. Without true rest we won’t be able to carry blessing people are needing us to share. Not for long anyways. And he didn’t find rest by simply escaping from people, but by going to Father who gives true rest!

Here’s the famous Jesus quote about rest that most church folk know:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew [11:28])

So, withdraw and pray.

Withdraw and read your Bible.

Withdraw and sing praises to your Creator.

Withdraw and meditate on His goodness.

Withdraw and find true rest in Him alone.

Shalom,

Clifton Smeltzer
Clifton R. Smeltzer

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