Finding The Rest Beneath The Rest

Over the last couple of years, I have yet to come across many marketplace workers who are not weary–bordering on exhaustion–from the pace and demands of their business. The old statement, “It’s a jungle out there” feels quite current today.

That reminds me of a story I’ve retold over the years.In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler set out on a long trip. He had high hopes for a speedy journey, accompanied by the nationals he hired to carry his heavy cargo. One the first day they traveled very far and very quickly. But the second morning, the men refused to move, just sat as though in deep thought. When asked about this strange behavior, they said that they had gone too fast the first day, and were waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.

How is your pace these days?

Do you have a clear sense about when you have worked long and hard enough?

Does your weariness extend beyond physical exhaustion?

Navigating some kind of balance between work and rest can be elusive in the modern marketplace and culture. Another question to consider is, “When you are not working, are you truly resting? And are you experiencing soul rest? Perhaps that needs some clarification.

1. Genuine soul rest reflects a belief in God’s ability to run the universe without our assistance. Sometimes we work and avoid rest, as if everything depends on us at any given moment. On the contrary, our Creator designed a rule and rhythm of work as well as rest. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done” (Genesis 2:1-2). God does not require rest, but modeled it for us as a gracious and essential gift. You and I operate as limited, finite “vessels” that require sleep and food and re-creation, yet many of us struggle with the whole concept of a “Sabbath.” Psalm 127:2 is another reminder that, “It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved even in their sleep.” (NASB)

2. There is a rest beneath the rest that is rooted in the Gospel. Tim Keller talked about something he called “the work underneath the work,” defined as using our work to construct our identity, significance and purpose. Ultimately, that will turn work into an idol. This may be unrecognizable when everything is going well. But when things go badly it may threaten our entire sense of identity and self-worth. The good news of the Gospel is that in Christ, our identity is secured as sons and daughters of God, redeemed and transformed and kept by our Heavenly Father. From there, we have access to the true source of soul rest–a deeper rest underneath the rest. Psalm 116:7 urges us to remind ourselves “Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.” (NLT)

Finally, when God finished creating everything, He declared that it was very, very good, and rested from His work. After living on the earth among us, God the Son carried a cross up a Calvary hill, was nailed to it, and endured excruciating physical pain that led to His death. However, His greater suffering was experiencing the wrath of God the Father and bearing the sins of the world. At the end of that unimaginable ordeal, He declared, “It is finished.” That completed, redemptive work is why you and I can truly enter into rest–not just physical and mental restoration, but deep emotional and spiritual rest that carries us throughout our days.

Serving Him with you in the marketplace,

David Atchison

Lord, I feel physically and mentally exhausted this morning, even when I got 8 hours of sleep. I’m doing my best to avoid overworking, yet there is an undertone of anxiety in my soul today. I feel like my load is too heavy. I can’t seem to cover all my responsibilities and I’m overwhelmed. Help me to find relief in Your sufficiency and strength. Keep reminding me that You are all I need today. Help me relinquish the lie that everything in my life is up to me. You are Sovereign over my destiny. You are the Lord of my life and business. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Jesus of Nazareth