How to Find Rest

Unlike the things around us, rest is not humanity’s default state. We don’t fall back into rest after we’ve accomplished something. Instead, we move to the next thing that distracts us.

By rest, I don’t mean kicking up our legs while we watch football. I mean time spent focused on God’s Kingdom and not our own. I mean when we give up on the busyness of this world to recharge. In that way, it’s essentially a fast—giving up our stuff for a time to take up God’s stuff.

Rest doesn’t just happen. You don’t accidentally fall into your room, turn off your phone, and just listen to God. If you take that approach, you’ll never experience true rest. You’ll spend a few moments praising God—and then you’ll be thinking about what update you’re missing or what you need to do later.

But you need rest. When we rest, we let God show us exactly where He needs to work. We let God speak to the hurts we’ve been trying to ignore in our an update-a-picosecond culture.

Getting into the rest mentality is tough, but here’s how you can make it happen:

  • Schedule times of rest. If you don’t put it on your calendar, you won’t do it. Something else will bump it off. Tell people you’re busy, and let only real emergencies intrude. Make these times ongoing and regular if possible.
  • Prepare yourself. Before you go into a time of rest, leave a buffer. If you enter into a prayer time or Bible study right after you’ve just checked your Mint.com balances, you’re going to be thinking about that. Take a walk or spend some time clearing your mind before you go in.
  • Go in with a plan. Unfocused quiet time can often lead to meandering thoughts. I suggest making a list of things to pray about or read.
  • Watch yourself. Thanks to the Internet, your brain has been conditioned to multitask. You’ve got to make it a point to bring your mind back to what you’re doing in the present. That’s why a plan can be helpful.
  • Leave time to listen. It’s not all about talking. Sometimes you just need to wait and see if God speaks. No, I don’t mean audibly, but I do mean pointing something out to you.
  • Do something about it. If God does show you an area to work on, take notes.

Rest isn’t optional. God calls us to do it for our own good.

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The Day Without a Computer

The title of this post sounds like a horror movie. But maybe not the way you think.

My first thought when I don’t have some piece of “essential” information (e.g., where can I buy Cheerwine?) always involves silicon and a screen. In fact, my life has gotten to the point that it orbits some sort of technology all the time.

And that’s where I find some horror. If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that most days computers see my face more than my family. That bothers me—a lot.

Granted, most of my work involves hunching over a keyboard, pounding out words. I love words, love how they can make much beauty out of something so simple as letters fitted together.

But I love my family more.

So, I’ve started taking a day off the computer each week (usually Sunday). I really can’t take credit for this stroke of obvious genius, since my wife started it, but the impact has been amazing. For one thing, my stress level plummets when I’m not under the purview of my computer-master. If I don’t take a day off, I notice my irritability rising—probably because my inbox is never zero.

Also, I savor the days when I’m not caught in the endless Wikipedia link-loop (you know what I mean). Time passes much more slowly. Considering how quickly my girls grow up, I’ll take all the time I can get with them.

No computer means a focused connection with my wife—rather than the 7 billion other people on Facebook and Twitter. I love social media, but sometimes I just want to focus on her.

Finally, I’ve found that just about anything can take my eyes off God. Being able to put something aside for a day without being reduced to withdrawal symptoms shows me that He still takes priority. (Frankly, not using a computer can challenge me here, as the temptation to dive back in is pretty strong.)

Take a day off each week. You’ll enjoy the break.