rest

Rest is the Necessary Ground Of New Life

May 22, 2018

It’s time. I can see the familiar signs: the worry about things that normally don’t cause me angst. The weariness that isn’t cured by a good night’s sleep. The lack of clarity—and lack of time to contemplate it. The irritability I feel whenever I spend even a few moments on the internet.

Yes, it’s time.

Time to pull back the words and think about them instead. To cease talking and engage in more listening. Time to process and pray as if life depends on it.

It’s time for the necessary work of rest.

For its own sake and for the growth and life yet to come.

There are many different types of rest, of course. Sleeping is one. One of my favorites, in fact. Sleeping is far more important to me now than ever before, now that I understand I am not invincible.

Then there is rest from labor, rest from striving, rest from accomplishing and building and achieving and moving. It is this kind of rest that requires you to put your drive to bed. We often think that kind of rest is an absence of productivity and growth, like fallow ground during the a cold winter’s glum.

But I no longer believe that’s true. And I no longer believe rest is unproductive, no matter how it may appear on the outside.

Rest is the underbelly of abundance. The necessary nurturing for new life and growth. 

I want an abundant life, a growing life, the kind of life Jesus hinted at in John 10:10. In my youth, I believed his words a promise of goodness, of an easy and happy and comfortable life. It sounded deliciously formulaic: Follow Jesus. Get fat on the good life.

I now know otherwise. What Jesus was promising when he offered “life to the full” wasn’t an exit from struggle. But an invitation to experience all of it, to ingest the rich and complex flavors of this one feast called life. This “life to the full” is a life experienced beyond the superficial, like a farmer digs deep to find the rich soil hidden beneath the surface of the ground.

Rest, in a sense, is a search for the glory beneath the agony. And, when respected and cultivated, it offers the kind of life that doesn’t collapse in on itself when facing calamity. Instead, if builds a life that rises up to live again, maybe even more abundantly than before. Not in spite of struggle, but because of it.

But this kind of rich and abundant life can only be mined in rest. In solitude. In quiet, searing holy spaces.

That’s why, for the third year in a row, I will shut down my blog, social media and email for the summer. Although you may see a few pre-scheduled posts here and there, I will be removing social media buttons from my phone and logging out of all apps on my computer. These are my reasons why:

  1. A New Book: My next book is set to release mid-2019. Currently, I’m writing it. It’s subject matter is tender, weighty, and worth a deeper measure of respect, study and focus. All of my writing and thinking and processing will be taking place on those pages, for now. Make sure you’re subscribed here to be privy to those details when the time comes for their release.
  2. Space for Prayer & Study: In case you haven’t noticed, some significant conversations are taking place in the Church right now, in person and online. These conversations are uncomfortable and confusing at best, hurtful and controversial at worst. I want to be prepared to speak into these conversations, if and when God asks me to do so. But the truth is without solitude, intentional prayer, and further study any attempt to speak into this conversation will be premature and reactive at best. I must allow God space to deal with my humanity and blind spots before I can ever attempt any leadership of others through theirs.
  3. Leadership Development: One of my main priorities in this season of work and ministry is mentoring and equipping Christian women leaders. In August, I will begin my fourth semester of my Inspired Life Mastermind. Part of this season of rest will be invested in the heart, soul, mind work of preparing for it. (NOTE: Want to be a part? We’d love to have you. Apply for the next Inspired Life Mastermind here.)

The truth: I will not be satisfied with anything less than abundance. Thus, I’m investing in rest for this season in anticipation of new life in the next one.

How about you? Don’t skip past this question with flippant disregard. It’s important. You are important. Would you describe your current life as “abundant?” If not, why not? And what are you willing to do about it?

For me, I’m willing to do the opposite of what the culture and market says I “should” do. I’m willing to risk misunderstanding and lost opportunity. But I’m NOT willing to risk myself. My faith. And the one life I’ve been given to live.

FREE RESOURCES

NEED SOME HELP? You can find TWO LINKED BOOK LISTS on my website, including one for Spiritual Growth and one for Deeper Emotional Healing. Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is ONE WAY you can invest in rest this week? This month? This summer? Leave your commitment in the comments, and we’ll do it together. 

23 Comments

  1. Amy Brown

    I’ve been reading about rest and know it needs to be planned and guarded. I need to have the same tenacity in planning rest that I use to get other things on our schedule.
    So my plan is to put it in my calendar at the beginning of the week.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      So well said, Amy. I, too, need to mirror that tenacity.

      Reply
  2. Jerolyn

    Thanks for this reminder. God is giving me some down time that I need to take advantage of. I need to focus on being “still”

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      “Still” is hard work! 🙂 Praying you savor every moment, friend.

      Reply
  3. lisanne3015

    To rest for me is to stop stressing over what I haven’t accomplished or beat myself up over not starting. I’m learning that’s counterproductive and self shaming and I’m not glorifying lack of progress, just saying there is good in knowing when God shows me “I’m ready.”

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Ah, yes. To turn off the mind that is constantly looking for lack, and instead take a deep breath and no this present moment is enough. God is here.

      Reply
  4. Barbara

    Why is rest so difficult for some of us? The guilt if we’re not producing something? Even Jesus gave us his example of rest. Thank you for your heartfelt writings. I always learn something new. I feel like I just had coffee with a friend. Thank you for the book lists as well.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you for that, Barbara. That is one of kindest things you could’ve said. I’m so glad we spent coffee time together! 😉

      Reply
  5. Rita

    I too am scheduling rest but honestly so many times I bump the rest for something more urgent but not important. Argh. Thanks for the gentle reminder to make rest s priority.

    Perhaps a walk in Colorado together?!

    Reply
  6. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michele…whenever you do this prescribed rest I feel a longing for myself. Mine may look a little different than yours but I am making a commitment to rest. Like you, I am a driven person. Yesterday I realized I have overcommitted myself once again. I find myself juggling between 3-6 online classes and now a great big one for my continuing education units needed yearly for my profession. I’m also painting, working on a manuscript, and just joined a gym! I haven’t been putting my time alone with Jesus as my number one. Ouch! I feel it! Thanks for the reminder on how important this thing called rest really is.

    Reply
  7. Pearl

    I need to guard bedtime better (and quit fearing that I’m giving up productivity when I should go to bed). I want to embrace the thinking that “He withholds no good from him whose walk is blameless.”

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I used to do the same … I’d cut into sleep hours to get more done. I’ve (finally!) learned that sleep actually makes me far more productive! Love your plan, Pearl. All the best to you.

      Reply
  8. Marina

    Michele, just the words of this post brought a measure of peace and rest to my hurried soul. I was about to jump out of bed and start rushing around in my usual manner of “too much to do in one day but let me die trying” mode. My daydreams usually revolve around cramming extra activities in. Today I will reserve a block of time for intentional rest. Thank you for these words to meditate on today….“The truth: I will not be satisfied with anything less than abundance.”

    Reply
  9. Ann Shelton

    Rest, from my anxieties and pain, has been very illusive in the past few months. I hope my husband and I have hit on a possible solution…leave home for a few days. We haven’t been to the ocean (we live in a landlocked state) in over 20 years so we are going to (or at least I am going to) sit and watch the ocean. Period. No plans to tour, explore, or shop. Sit and watch…and rest. Thank you for your words, they work wonders for me.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Oh, Ann. That sounds perfect. Enjoy every sweet, quiet, soul-filling moment.

      Reply
  10. Nancy E. Head

    “Rest is the underbelly of abundance. The necessary nurturing for new life and growth.”

    And often, rest is the first thing we deprive ourselves of and the last thing we indulge in. God bless!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Isn’t that the truth?! Thanks, Nancy. May our Father bless you, as well.

      Reply
  11. Lori

    I just read this in my daily devotional in regards to developing space for our relationship with God.
    Fire by Judy Brown
    What makes a fire burn
    is space between the logs,
    a breathing space.
    Too much of a good thing,
    too many logs
    packed in to tight
    can douse the flames
    almost as surely
    as a pail of water would.
    So building fires
    requires attention
    to the spaces in between
    as much to the wood.
    When we are able to build
    open spaces
    in the same way
    we have learned
    to pile on the logs
    then we can come to see how
    it is fuel and absence of the fuel
    together that make fire possible.

    Reply
  12. Cassie

    Being pregnant at 40, dealing with all on my dinner sized plate, God has taken me to a knee level of rest.
    I’m so thankful for the way he leads us.
    Loved your video btw! So excited about the new book!

    I still remember the (2015) summer cottage and ocean view where I unpacked Undone and received the call to coach w you.
    You’ve been such a part of my own launch. Thank you for pressing into God so you are equipped to lead the way you do. ♥️

    Reply
  13. Linda Mensching

    I have fibromyalgia. It causes a lot of pain especially when I’m under stress. I have learned that I have to give myself “Veg” days where I do nothing but rest. At first it was hard because I see all that needs to be done. But I’m worth it. I always feel better when I take the time to rest.

    Reply
  14. Penelope

    Oh yes indeed. Rest is essential. I have been craving rest like being thirty for water … the deep, nurturing rest of time with the Holy Spirit, the needing to rest in the wonder of God, in the wisdom of Jesus … as a mother I give and give and wholeheartedly so! But, I need to refuel as well.

    Reply
  15. Marla Lindstrom Benroth

    After completing a book project, I crave a season of rest, even if just a couple of weeks! To me, rest means I can read books I want to read, leisurely complete projects at home that have stacked up and add to a long someday-wish-list! And it means unplugging in many ways and soaking in the presence and words and wisdom of Christ.

    Reply
  16. Linda

    He makes me to lie down In green pastures. I think the words “makes me” is the key words here. When I don’t listen to my body when it wants rest “HE makes me” by increasing the pain I feel. I have learned to listen. I don’t always get it right away but the Holy Spirit is a holy nag. ?

    Reply

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