The Dancing Puritan

Friday, October 3, 2014


R E S T! What a lovely word. Just look at the letters R E S T on your computer screen. Close your eyes and ponder, for just a minute, --R E S T. Does rest seem out of reach? Do you know that one of the most loving things that you can do for your family, friends, and boss is to learn how to rest? Best of all, God is glorified when His children rest. Someone once said, "The graveyard is full of indispensable men." People who fail to rest often imagine that they are "indispensable." I know.

I didn't realize the degree of my tiredness until Monday September 29th at 4:30 PM. It was like I unwittingly participated in the Ice-Bucket-Challenge. Yes, it was a wake-up-call. I enjoyed a great night of sleep on Sunday night. I know that because my hair was not disheveled on Monday morning. Monday started off with a nice breakfast on the veranda of Normandy Inn at WinShape.

After breakfast I read for a couple of hours before lunch. After lunch I fell into my soft bed and drifted into a deep sleep for several hours (something that I never do). When I woke up, I experienced another awakening. I just kept repeating to my bewildered wife, "I am so very tired." I have been running very hard for three years with rarely a break in the action. Like most people I juggle many responsibilities. It is hard to admit. I don't go around bragging about how busy I am or complaining about how tired that I am. I hope that I am not whining now, and I don't want to sound (or be) self-serving, but the reality is, I am tired and it is my own fault. This post is probably the last thing that you will ever read about my personal tiredness but I felt compelled to mention it this one time.

My awakening on Monday caused me to think, that without that safe-place and soft bed that I was headed for a Humpty Dumpty fall. I know, but have often ignored, that though God designed us for work, he has also given to His children rest. R E S T. Look at that word again just hanging there on your page. Does it seem like an impossible dream?

A familiar face met us as we drove into the parking lot on Sunday evening at 6:15 PM. Bill and Cecelia (Cilli) have been hosting events at the Normandy Inn at WinShape for 13 years. Bill met us at our vehicle and immediately reached for our luggage. Lori and I met Bill and Cilli about six years ago, they are the kind of folks that you never forget. When I think of them Colossians 3:14 comes to mind: "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."  Bill and Cilli "put on love" and the Lord uses them as he, through love, "binds everything together in perfect harmony."

Lori and I were at WinShape for their Pastor's R&R. This four night and five day event is a gift to full-time pastors by the Cathy family of Chick-fil-A and the WinShape foundation. Words are insufficient to describe how blessed we feel to have been given such a gift from such a generous family and ministry. Eight other couples from Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia came for the same purpose--a few days to, R E S T. At the Pastor's R&R there is no real schedule, except for the fantastic  meals. We were charged to seek the Lord, work on our marriages, and R E S T. And to top it all off we were free to eat all of the Chick-fil-A ice cream that we wanted. I do have to confess that I worked some during my time at WinShape.

On Monday afternoon at 4:30 PM, I realized why I was there. I did not grasp my tiredness, until I rested. God provided. He provided "love which binds everything together in perfect harmony." He provided lively, encouraging, funny, happy, and joyful conversations around the table. He provided beauty--thousands of acres of beauty. He provided relaxing music. He provided quietness. He provided a comfortable room and a soft bed. He provided R E S T.

I am back at work today--a little stronger. I am still very tired from years of failing to rest. I am praying, "I repent, help my lack of repentance." Before me I see mountains of responsibility and I wonder how, on my small shoulders, I will carry the load. I want to be faithful to my Lord and family. Faithfulness, hard work, commitment to duty, and devotion to God, family, others, and work--these are not optional. However, there is something that I often miss as I race from responsibility to responsibility. Perhaps you know what I am talking about.  Do you see it? It is R E S T.  Jesus is our rest. He is our Sabbath. The road to recovery begins with faith in Christ. This means that we must realize that God's mercy "depends not on human will or exertion" (Romans 9:16). To rest we must first of all come to grips with the reality that we are not, in fact, God. Rest is a gift that must be received. Today, think a bit about R E S T.

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 sleep (Psalm 127:2).

Ray Rhodes, Jr. is pastor of Grace Community Church of North Georgia, president of Nourished in the Word Ministries, and author of numerous books on marriage and family.