All We Need: Finding Rest and Refreshment in Christ
The spring of 2020 often feels like a strange dream, doesn’t it? I was recently pondering the five weeks I spent without stepping one foot off our property as we sought to navigate the crazy pandemic waters everyone suddenly found themselves in. My husband took over any necessary errands (for which I was grateful), hence my extended time solely at home.
As a stay at home mom, I’m sure it was far easier for me to adjust to the change of pace than it was for others who were used to leaving the house every day, not to mention those who were thrust into even more difficult circumstances. But I did feel a twinge of sadness over the surrender of twice-a-week outings my husband and I had worked into our schedule. Those few hours were so refreshing for this introverted mama of four lively kiddos. The ability to mentally regroup, get some writing accomplished, or simply get my hair trimmed were things I’d come to look forward to—depend on, even—in order to thrive. That’s exactly what God put His finger on.
In the midst of my internal struggle, the Lord spoke words like this to my heart: Heather, even if every earthly means of refreshment was stripped from you, do you believe I’m enough? Do you view these things as gifts from the Giver of all good things, or have you begun to lean on them for rest that can only be found in Me?
God, in His mercy, revealed the tight hold I’d had on these outings. It became clear to me that I’d been looking to this “alone time” for soul-thriving that only He can provide. He gave me a renewed realization that I didn’t need those extra luxuries in order to be a patient and loving wife and mom: I needed Jesus.
As I confessed my sin and committed those weeks into His hands, I was filled with renewed hope that He’d already prepared every ounce of grace I needed, even as He allowed those outings to pause for a while. I watched Him prove Himself true with that supply of grace. Those weeks weren't without squabbling, moments of stress, or frustrations running high. But He filled me with joy as I lingered with my children in the midst of a cleared schedule. I began to cherish my family more—not less—during those days we spent, beginning to end, with one another. God gave creativity for the (many) times I needed a moment of quiet to gather my thoughts. His Word became more precious to me. Now, as I look back I praise God for what He taught me: He alone can satisfy my soul, and He will as I look to Him.
We live in a world that bombards us with messages about what we need in order to thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually. From the moment I open social media I encounter sponsored posts about that sixty percent off sale I absolutely “deserve,” or the countless ways I can (or should) indulge myself in this or that. (This messaging only amplifies during May as Mother’s Day approaches . . . did you notice?) The bait fills our little seas, calling us to chomp down on one of a thousand hooks that declare, “You won’t be happy unless you have this. You pour out so much for others—it’s time to put yourself first for once.” But when I take the bait, I’m always disappointed. The discontentment grows rather than diminishes. Sure, it feels good for a moment. Then it fades. And I realize I still wake up in desperate need of something no massage or new outfit will supply.
I can’t help but reflect on the words of Jesus when He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). Jesus was proclaiming a truth that we as Christians often take for granted: that in Him we have all we need for the rest our souls long for. We know that He valued times of physical solitude and rest; He practiced it and encouraged His disciples to do the same (Matt. 14:23; Mark 6:31). But this in no way negated the spiritual reality that He alone is what—who—we need to satisfy the deepest weariness, anxiety, stress, and struggles we face. He can supply the priceless spiritual refreshment He purchased for us by His blood. This is where true peace begins.
How do we rightly consider and put into practice these truths in light of the good gifts of enjoyment and physical rest that are available to us?
3 Ways to Rest and Be Refreshed in Jesus
1. Look to Jesus.
First we need to ask the Lord to help us believe and live the reality that He is our ultimate source of rest and refreshment. This begins by faithfully spending time in His presence through fellowship with Him in prayer and in the Word. We see this being described again and again in the Psalms:
You reveal the path of life to me;
in your presence is abundant joy;
at your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11)
My life is down in the dust;
give me life through your word. (Psalm 119:25)
Trouble and distress have overtaken me,
but your commands are my delight. (Psalm 119:143)
In Philippians we see what we’re to do when our hearts are weighed down with worry, as well as the result of going to Him in prayer:
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
When we turn to Him first, we can be sure that regardless of what He gives (or takes) in material delights, we’ll have everything our soul needs to be kept in “perfect peace” as our mind is fixed upon Him (Isa. 26:3).
2. Practice thanksgiving.
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” There is nothing of loveliness or wholesome delight on this earth that doesn’t come from God. When we view everything good—whether a pedicure, a yummy cup of coffee, or a few minutes to quietly bask in sunlight—as gifts from our loving Heavenly Father, our perspective will shift from one of entitlement to thanksgiving. But this takes discipline. Our fleshly impulses, combined with the ads and perfect “influencer” images that scroll past our eyes, will seek to keep us discontent rather than helping us abide in humble gratitude toward God. However, when we intentionally thank God for every good thing He gives, our eyes are opened to how many undeserved gifts He lavishes on us day after day.
3. Turn outward.
One of the most lifegiving things we can do is counterintuitive to our natural bent: turn our eyes from ourselves onto those around us. This is summed up in what is often called the Golden Rule: “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them” (Luke 6:31). When we live out the words of Jesus that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), our willingness to serve and love others ahead of ourselves opens the floodgates of God’s grace. Does this negate our own need for physical rest and refreshment? By no means. But it is an act of faith to believe that God will provide it in His way and His time.
Obedience will look different for each of us today. It might be as simple as sending an encouraging text to a friend when you’re feeling lonely yourself. It could mean offering to watch the kiddos of a young mom to give her an afternoon of rest. It might be dropping off a coffee or fresh flowers on the doorstep of someone who’s been walking through suffering in some way. Whatever it looks like for us today, God will be faithful to open our eyes to the ways we can bless others in His Name. We can trust Him with our own refreshment as we obey Him.
Return to Your Rest
Words written thousands of years ago in Psalm 116:7 are beautifully fitting for today.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
In times of stress, discouragement, or lack of physical vitality and rest, we can remember that we have a source of soul refreshment available to us that never runs dry. Why? Because we have Jesus. And that will never change.
Do you need to find rest in Jesus? Good news! As if by Providence (it is!) a special episode of The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast drops today, titled “Rest in Jesus.” Listen at ReviveOurHearts.com or wherever you get your podcasts.