There is a section in John Bunyan’s book The Pilgrim’s Progress that I have been thinking on quite a bit lately. Christian, the main character, comes across a peaceful area that was put in the midst of the “Mountain of Difficulty” by God for the purpose of giving weary pilgrims rest. Christian sits down to be refreshed and ends up falling asleep, staying much longer than he should have. When he wakes up, he realizes it is getting dark and he has lost precious time. The place that was intended for a brief rest was used as a way to give into laziness.
I have been in this place before. God gives me a space of time to rest — whether to take a nap, read a book, or relax with others, and I have taken advantage of it wrongly. I have given into laziness rather than redeemed that time to be refreshed in the way God intended. As a mom of an infant and rambunctious toddler, there is such a temptation to give into that voice that says, “You spend so much time caring for others; take this time to do whatever YOU want to do.” And, sadly, sometimes I have given in. There have been times when I’ve chosen to take a nap when I really didn’t need to, or slept just a little bit too long in the morning rather than getting a good start to my day. This has then resulted in hurried, frazzled, stressful moments that wouldn’t have happened in the first place had I not given into laziness.
Here’s another aspect of it: instead of using time I know God has given for physical rest, whether bed time or a quiet moment during the day, I have wasted it browsing social media or other websites. It’s not that social media or online shopping or reading about what hairstyle best suits your face shape is necessarily wrong, but I chose to do that at a time when I knew I should have been resting instead … resulting in more tiredness later on. Or, rather than using time God has given to read His Word or spend time in prayer, I have used it to do things like housework or various other projects I could have done another time.
Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In Jesus is where true rest is found. This should be our mindset whether we are in busy seasons or restful seasons, so that in everything we are striving to bring Him glory. When God gives us time to sleep, we sleep with thankfulness, but we shouldn’t sleep longer than is needed. When God gives us time with friends, we speak and act in such a way that is honoring Him, not letting down our guard in the name of “having a good time.” And, when getting on Facebook or Instagram, every word we type or link we click should be honoring to Jesus. Sleeping, talking, eating, and anything else we do is to be done intentionally, not with a dullness or carelessness of mind and heart. As Christians, we are never to take a break from living like one, and this is to be reflected in the way we go about our times of rest. And when we do turn to Him for refreshment, not only are our bodies refreshed, but our minds and hearts are as well. We experience rest at the deepest level of our being, and our eyes are opened to more of His beauty, His joy, and His worth. We find contentment in Him that can truly be found in no other place.
When our focus is on Christ, then everything we do will be an outflow of our love for Him. If in your rest you struggle to use it for the glory of God, confess this to Him and ask Him for His help. He is faithful to lead us, teach us, and satisfy our souls when we are finding our rest in Him!