Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:3
Why do you think God rested on the seventh day? The all-powerful sustainer of the universe who never slumbers nor sleeps, who never dwindles in His power…Why? God didn’t need to rest, but He chose to rest as the culmination of His work.
Over the past few months, I have had a lot of unintentional time to meditate on the concept of godly rest. In early September, I was diagnosed with the mono virus and could barely stand for the next eight weeks. After a couple hospital visits and tons of prayer, I’m so thankful to be almost back to normal now. Through the eight weeks of illness, though, I journeyed waves of frustration, impatience, guilt, and self-pity. I was forced to let go of my responsibilities to my family, my job, and every other avenue of life for the sake of healing.
About half way into the illness, God dealt with my heart. While I lay wallowing in a “why me” mentality, God gave the opportunity to perform some soul surgery. He revealed to me that while I was “resting” physically, my soul was in twisted into knots. However, God’s desire was to use this sickness for His good and glory. He wanted to teach me how to rest my soul in His care.
While separated from the daily activities of life, God revealed to me the importance of godly rest in a way that renewed vision and purpose into my heart.
Godly Self-Care: Rest and Life
Recently my husband and I sat beneath the teaching of Gary and Erin Smalley from Focus on the Family. The Smalley’s share an important attribute of every healthy believer: Godly Self-Care. True Godly self-care isn’t selfish. Instead, it benefits your family and other relationships in a way that allows you to fulfill the spiritual purposes of your life. For Godly self-care to occur, we must make two areas of activity a routine self-disciplines: Rest and Life.
Rest simply means to cease movement in order to relax and refresh oneself and regain strength. This could include sleep, laughter, listening to music, massage, healthy eating, etc. The key, though, is to make sure the rest is preparing you to serve your family and God in a way that brings Him glory. If you are enjoying one of these restful activities out of laziness or to dodge responsibility, it’s not godly rest.
Life activities are those that invigorate and bring passion to your soul. Hope, healing, and creativity flow from these things. This could include a mission trip, taking a class, exercising, conquering a fear, traveling, life coaching/mentoring, teaching, etc. While you may feel tired physically after engaging in a life activity, you will find your soul refreshed in a way that spurs you on in love and service to others.
Our Responsibility to Godly Self-Care
Self-care gets a bad wrap among many Christian circles. I admit, at first glance it does seem quite selfish and contrary to the call to “bring the Kingdom,” “make disciples,” and “serve one another.” Yet, when we re-read what Jesus declared the top two greatest commandments, we see the responsibility to self-care woven into the calling of every believer.
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: Love your neighbor AS yourself.’”Matthew 22:37-39
If we are called to care for the physical livelihood of those around us, we must be doing the same for ourselves. If we are to nurture the souls of others, extend grace for others’ faults, and seek the peace and prosperity of others, we are called to do the same for ourselves.
Related Post: The Command to Rest
Again, if the attitude of our heart isn’t pure, but instead motivated by laziness, irresponsibility, or pride, it’s not true Godly self-care. In fact, it becomes sin. However, when the motivation of our heart is to seek the abundant fullness of life promised to us as God’s children, engaging in both restful and life-giving activities become necessary disciplines of a Godly life (John 10:10).
Walk in Freedom
For too many years, I walked crippled beneath a church girl religious spirit. Everything about my relationship with Jesus hung on a deep rooted lie that I had to prove myself worthy. As a result, ungodly self-denial, false humility, and a judgmental spirit took root. I didn’t allow myself the freedom to fully rest in Christ.
God came down to set us free so we can enjoy restful, life-giving fellowship with Himself and the body of Christ around us! My prayer is that more of us within the body of Christ will walk freely and enjoy rest and life in a way that propels us to love God and love others as perfectly and purposefully as Jesus modeled.
I encourage you to take some time and jot down the activities that most bring rest to your body and life to your soul. Seek to incorporate these activities in a healthy, God-centered way each week. The world needs vibrant, joyful, and purposeful carriers of the gospel!