“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. . . ” Psalms 37:7 (NKJV)
Just mention the word “Walk” and the ears on our little dog, Max, spring right up. Excitement is more than he can contain! You don’t usually have to say the word a second time. In his eagerness to get started, he races through the house. If he could talk, I’m almost certain that I would hear him say, “Hurry up and get my harness and leash on!” He is ready to go for a W – A – L – K!
This morning, Max and I went out for a walk. This dog LOVES his walks! Each and every one holds a new adventure; for him and for the person who is hanging onto the leash. He stops often just to take in the sights and sounds around him. He is busy poking his little nose into just about every nook and cranny along the way. He has a friendly greeting for each and every person he meets along the path. That tail-wagging greeting is the best thing ever to brighten up your day! And then, there are all the stops at the houses where his “friends” live. A quick little bark to say “hello!” and we are off walking again. Today, he was especially interested in chasing the birds. It seems he is listening for their special song and when he hears it, he stops and assesses where it is coming from. Should he have the pleasure of seeing that bird – well, that is when the real fun begins. Catch me if you can! Thankfully, he has never actually caught one, yet, he certainly gives his very best try. The birds are always quick to fly away. Today, I almost lost my grip on his leash, when unexpectedly, he lunged after a rabbit. I sure didn’t see that one coming. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the rabbit or me. Perhaps Max thought that cute little rabbit was “lunch” but, happily, the rabbit wasn’t interested in Max and he quickly disappeared out of sight. Max let out a little growl of disappointment. Poor Max! Nonetheless, it was fun to watch the little guy. A little while later, a big gust of wind caught him totally off guard and he began nipping at it. I chuckled at the thought of trying to catch the wind. As if you really could Max. I tell you, walking with this dog is a new experience every day. And yet, I must admit, when I think about it, there are plenty of life lessons to learn from walking my dog.
First time ever, today on our walk, Max got tired out! I mean, totally exhausted kind of tired! Not really surprising though. Worn out by the adventure, he plopped himself down. Right there in the middle of the sidewalk, Max sits down. He refused to move. “Really, Max? You have to stop right here? Right now?” At least, he had picked a shady spot to sit down in. I am afraid, he is down for the count. He lets out the cutest, most exhausted sigh that I have ever heard from my dog. No amount of tugs to the leash, no amount of petting, no amount of “That’s a good boy!”, no amount of promised treats, nothing, I repeat, NOTHING was going to entice him to move forward and finish our walk. Nothing!
At first, he just sat there, looking all around him. I’m trying to figure out what he is watching. What might he be preparing to go after next. But, there is nothing; nothing that I could see! All of the sudden, instead of sitting, Max lays down on the cool, shady sidewalk and spreads out all four legs. One, Two, Three, and Four! Then he drops his head, allowing another sigh to escape. He closes his eyes. Nope, he’s definitely not moving. He is totally exhausted! It was time to rest!
What’s his favorite dog walker to do?
In that moment, I simply chose to sit down with my favorite dog, on the sidewalk, and take a rest. I know. I could have picked him up and carried him back home. But why? It was a lovely day. And while I’m out walking my dog, Max, unknowingly, he teaches me a very simple, yet valuable life lesson.
Sometimes, we just need to stop and rest!
Life can be extremely hectic. Very often we find life to be fast paced and super busy. We tend to always be on the run. Places to go, people to see, things to do, deadlines to meet, dreams to fulfill. Life can be filled with many challenges, many problems, many things we seem to chase after, many different scenarios of drama, and occasionally comedy, play out day by day. All too often, there is something, someone “tugging at our leash” to keep us moving forward. Let’s get this thing called life done. Let’s finish our walk.
But, sometimes, we just need to stop where we are, stop what we are doing, lay down and rest!
REST is a gift that we can give to ourselves in the midst of our very hectic lives. My dog, Max, reminded me of that little lesson today, out on our walk together. Rest is good. Rest is necessary. Rest is restoring to our body, soul and mind. Rest is not idle. It is not wasteful time. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing that we can do in a day. We all need rest.
Here’s four things that I have learned about REST. (I built an acronym so that I remember it better!)
R – Rest gives me the opportunity to RETREAT. I love that word retreat. It means to pull away from something or someone for a designated period of time. To separate from something and rest or relax. It’s that idea of stopping one or more actions in life for a time to concentrate on something else. I have learned to schedule times of retreat into my life. If I don’t intentionally schedule it, then it usually doesn’t happen at all. I actually look forward to my times of retreat. I intentionally put my work aside. Yeah, no housework, no laundry, no fixing of meals (they get done ahead of time). At my personal retreat, there are no people, no problems, and thus no potential disturbances. During many of my times of retreat, I intentionally retreat from technology, and so, no phones, no computers, no television will be allowed at my retreat. Just me and quiet! It’s best for me to retreat somewhere away from home and thus, away from temptations to rush back into life’s complicated chaos. When I’m away from home, I cannot pick up my baggage or my work and bring it into my retreat space. My retreats can be for a few hours, a full day, or even for several days – whatever I deem my retreat to be. Sometimes that retreat will include a good, well-deserved nap. Retreat for me is all about rest. Resting from the normal pace of life, resting from my work, resting from technology that zaps so much of my time and energy, resting from my worries and concerns, resting my body, soul and mind.
E – Rest gives me the opportunity to ENTER God’s presence. Pulling away from the demands of life, pulling away from responsibilities, pulling away from everything else, gives me the privilege of retreating with my Creator God. It’s an opportunity to come into His sacred presence and just dwell there together. To enter and enjoy His presence fully. I don’t bring anything else with me. It’s just me and my God! It’s quiet in His presence. It is so peaceful and there is no one else to disturb us. His presence brings calm to my tired, troubled heart. In His presence, I can lay down everything – my hurts, my pain, my anxiety, my concerns, and my fears. Everything I have, everything I am is His when I am there, in His presence. He takes everything from me. I willingly surrender everything to Him. I can completely, totally, and fully rest in His presence. I can have that long over-due nap, while He tenderly watches over His child. In His presence, I can find a special place of refuge. I am safe there in His presence. I can be restored, renewed and revitalized in my body, soul and mind.
S – Rest gives me the opportunity to SPEND quality time with my Best Friend, My Lord, My God, and My Savior! Together, we choose how best to spend that time. I can spend time talking to Him. Tell Him anything that I want to. He will listen intently to my every word. I can spend time listening to Him as He speaks softly and gently to me. I want to listen to His every word. I desire His words to wash over my spirit, to cleanse and refresh my heart and soul. My God and I can be silent in the presence of one another. We don’t have to feel awkward in that silence. The silence is blissful and beautiful. As we spend time together, I can read His Word. Out loud, I read His Words back to Him and from the very pages of my Bible, my God speaks to me. I can ask Him questions. He will explain His truths to my open heart and mind. I want to hear only His words in this special time together. I can worship Him. There will be no fear that my worship isn’t good enough, isn’t pure enough, isn’t worthy for Him. I desire my worship to be heart-felt and holy. I want my worship to be glorious to the ears of My Savior. In that worship, I want to sing to Him. No worries about making “a joyful noise” for my worship will be beautiful in His presence. As I spend this special, sacred time with my God, my Savior, I will find that true rest comes flooding over my heart, soul and mind.
T – Rest gives me the opportunity to TRUST my God. As I’m resting in His presence and as I’m spending quality time with Him, I loosen my grip on everything else. There is no baggage. There are no problems. There are no fears or doubts. There is nothing that comes between me and my Savior God. As I rest, everything else fades from view. I have found my place of refuge. I am receiving His refreshment. I am seeing my heart being renewed right before my eyes. I am learning to totally trust the work that my God is doing in these moments of retreat and rest. His work is good. No, it’s better than good, it’s awesome! It is perfect! It is complete! I am learning to trust Him! My trust grows bigger, deeper, more fuller with every moment we spend together. It’s more precious than ever before. I want to trust even more. I want to trust Him with all my heart, soul and mind.
Sometimes, we just need to stop and rest!
Dear Father, This world seems to move faster and faster and I’m trying to keep up. But God, in this whirlwind, instead I get caught up. Like an unbeatable force, it pulls me in but I know eventually, I cannot win. I must learn to rest in Your perfect peace, and though good, let all endeavors cease. Oh, that my feet would mimic Your pace, so Your joy would be set upon my face. Help me Jesus, to slow down when You would; Help me Lord, to rest as I should. Thank you for loving me God, and helping me to find, that rest is so good for my body, soul and mind. Amen.”