March 11, 2011

Working and Resting

Since returning from the UK for a cross-cultural training course last month, I have devoured a book called Working From a Place of Rest by Tony Horsfall. He has worked with MAF missionaries for years in pastoral care, specifically visiting those families serving the northern Africa region.

Exhaustion, burnout, tiredness, even breakdown... sadly, such conditions are all too common these days, not least among those involved in some kind of Christian ministry, whether full-time, part-time or voluntary. In striving to do our utmost for God, we can easily forget that there were many times when Jesus himself was willing to rest, to do nothing except wait for the Spirit's prompting, so that he demonstrated the vital principle of 'working from a place of rest'.

This season of my life as a mom of 3 young children, and another soon to arrive, could hardly be described as restful! And being a wife and mother is definitely full time ministry. So how does one balance all of these responsibilities and call it working from a place of rest? The house would literally become unglued if I simply stopped doing laundry and cooking meals! Perhaps us as moms need to redefine 'rest'. Not too long ago I was asking for prayer in this area of finding rest in the busyness of life, and a good friend asked me what that rest might look like for me. The question caught me off guard a bit! Being away from my children isn't the answer for me, going away on vacation and all of the work that encompasses is hardly restful either. Even having a good night sleep hasn't answered my problems (though it definitely alleviates some). The quiet rest I need must be the intimate spiritual connection of my relationship with Christ. Being focused on him throughout the day and prioritizing the day's needs and responsibilities according to His will.

If we are too busy to rest, it is because we are driving ourselves too hard. In his kingdom, we can walk with calmness because he is in control. If we are rushed and harassed, it is because we ourselves are trying to make things happen. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't manage our time well or seek to work efficiently. It simply means that we use our time and establish our priorities from a different value system. We give our time back to God, for him to apportion as he desires. (Pg. 60)

This sounds very nice, it is so much harder to practice. It comes down to our ability to trust in God and the plans He has for our lives. Perhaps we make our lives too complicated sometimes? I actually enjoy keeping a tidy house; it makes me feel good to be on top of the laundry pile (mostly), and I would say one of my hobbies is finding ways to make more things from scratch (frugality, and for health reason). But these things can add stress to my day and perhaps take me away from that which is most important at that moment: Training my children up in the Lord, playing with toys on the floor with them, and relaxing with books on the couch together. Fresh bread, homemade yogurt, etc.... those things can be put on hold.

Being still and waiting for the Lord to guide my steps is the pathway to restfulness.

1 comment:

I'm Kristen, the pajama mama said...

i get this, karina. there are so many good things we can fill our lives up with, but they are not necessarily good for us at this time. i just dug out a cd of a message called 24 Hours is All You Get, by a mother explaining that same idea. I may have to pick up that book, too.

thanks for the thoughts!