Need to rest up?

Published 8:07 am Wednesday, July 10, 2019

By Charles Qualls

I saw the post on social media by a friend, and probably had the same reaction most do when we hear a similar notion. After all, she’s running around Universal Studios with her son, enjoying the rides and probably snacking on fun things. “I’m going to have to rest up from my vacation after this is all over,” she says. Seems that we recoil instinctively, and many of us murmur some silent retort. “Well, don’t expect ME to feel sorry for you” or somesuch. That is, if someone else says these words.

When we have the busy trip to see family, the exciting and fun-filled vacation or the educational tour that simply wears us out, then it’s our turn. We are a little more sympathetic with our own weariness. “I’m going to have to rest up from my vacation after this is all over.”

Ministers, whom most people assume only work two days a week anyway, know how cynically our absence from the office is viewed. We can be away at a busy denominational convention. Or, attending a continuing education event. We can be on a mission trip working construction in the hot sun. We can be teaching through an interpreter, which is a tedious mental workout. It all looks the same to those who didn’t go. There are those who blur anything that takes us away into one category: Vacation.

Understandably, we are expected back in the office on Monday after our return. Or, to preach with energy and conviction on Sunday even though tired. I get it.

Did you know that there is a “sense of place” to most of our homes. Being there is more restful for many of us than anywhere else we can be. Even at a luxurious resort or on a Caribbean cruise, you might not be physically resting as soundly as you would at home. This is one thing that causes people to say, “I am going to have to rest up from my vacation.”

Mentally, though, at least you have interrupted the daily routine and the office work load. In the long run, that’s the part that counts. Of course it’s not always a trip, much less a vacation, that can tire us out.

In Matthew 11:28-30 we hear Jesus proclaim this word of grace. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In our church sanctuary, we have a marvelous stained-glass piece over the choir loft. It depicts Christ and underneath, a ribbon contains the encouraging 28th verse.

Whatever the cause, we all have moments or seasons when we need rest. Oh, our bodies may feel just fine. It could be our spirits that are dry. Our emotional capacities may be overtaxed. We need rest. Life may have tested all the resilience we can muster, and may have thrown emergencies at us that sap every bit of the resources we have. We need rest.

We have an American culture that sometimes overaggrandizes labor and busy-ness. Combine that with what some sociologists attribute as a latent “Catholic guilt” reaction to laziness, and we have tired people running around. Of course, the economic evolution of these last few decades has left many with no choice but to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Some tired is plain self-inflicted though. Much of America, studies show, is actually sleep deprived by choice. There are fascinating late-night entertainment options. Online activity eats up chunks of time and attention that can distract one past what should have been bedtime. Energy drinks are at the height of their popularity, it seems, with much of our workforce existing on overdoses of them and coffee.

You have to make your sleep choices, your work choices and the ones that are affected by your play. Only you can. However, some of our “tired” can only be addressed by the One who offers to take on our burdens and guide us to a peace that can best be described as “rest.” Jesus’ priorities sometimes bring their own workloads and obligations. But, the tradeoff just may be a perspective and sense of hope that sustains you through life’s demanding seasons.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” May the hope and satisfaction that only a journey of faith can bring, visit rest upon your tiredness and peace upon your burdens.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.