Life Is Not An Emergency (How To Rest)

by Claire Vorster on August 22, 2013

“The people are in an emergency to relax. They long for the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Their eyes are hungry for the scenes of nature. They go very fast in their boats. They stir the river like a spoon in a cup of coffee. They play their radios loud enough to hear above the noise of their motors. They look neither left nor right. They don’t slow down for – or maybe even see – an old man in a rowboat raising his lines…” from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

How is it that we can know something and not know what it is?  Here’s what I mean. I give you this word. Rest. What comes to mind?

Now take a full minute (I kid you not, a full minute) and think again…





Was your second answer any different from your first? Now what if I asked you the same question after a particularly stressful day, or I asked after you had taken a long walk down an empty, endless beach on a perfect day?

What is rest?

In my experience, it gets harder to know what something is when you are either avoiding it or denied it. Oh yes, we can avoid rest just as easily as we can be denied it.

In the Bible, rest is not something we do on a lazy afternoon before we face down another spilling over week.  It is not reading a book, watching a movie, playing beach cricket, heading out for a run or a game of football.  In the Bible, rest is a promise.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11 v28, NIV

Weariness is not simply needing sleep. You can be deep down, soul weary. Maybe today or a long time ago, someone or something stole your ability to relax, to not be afraid, to be at peace. That’s weariness.

Burdens are things that weigh you down, responsibilities, deadlines, opinions, duty.

Now take another full minute (you can take longer if you want) and consider this.

What is making you weary? How are you burdened?






We are not equipped to carry these things on and on. But to be free of them, we must travel a little further.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11 v28, NIV

You are not alone. You are not Atlas who was made to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. You have the freedom to give something up. To give up the notion that it is all up to you, that you must get it right, that it can go wildly wrong. To give up the old fear that gnaws away, that corrodes and darkens the picture in your head. To give up the endless need to prove yourself able or worthy.

And to give in. Give in to Jesus, who is peace in all things. Peace in every situation. Peace all around you. Peace within you. Peace that swaps places with weariness, that easily shoulders burdens. Peace that is an endless and irrefutable promise defined in this one word.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11 v28, NIV

Take all the time you need.





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