It's Thanksgiving week and that means some good old fashioned R&R for me. So no post today. But I didn't want to want to leave my faithful readers high and dry, so here is the post I wrote last year, just after Thanksgiving. It talks about how I spent my holiday and how I used Thanksgiving week to get plenty of REST - but not exactly as you might think. Take look below and see for yourself. It's a crucial reminder for all of us as we head into the holiday season.
“Best week ever! Gotta make this a yearly tradition! I definitely got the rest I needed!”
That’s what I keep telling everyone who asks me about my Thanksgiving Week. We did something very special this year. We rented a large house out in the mountains and spent the entire week there along with the rest of our “medium family” as my kids like to say.
(fyi, little family = mom, dad, kids; medium family = grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, cousins; big family = church family)
Totally away from everything. No commitments, no email, no phone calls, no meetings... no agenda at all! In fact, the only thing on the calendar all week was a little football game that took place on Thanksgiving Day. You may have heard about it – those who live in the DC area sure did. In case you didn’t though, let me fill you in…
Washington Redskins 38, Dallas Cowboys 31.HAIL TO THE REDSKINS! Skins fans – it’s time to go ahead and make those Super Bowl reservations now!
But my point is that we had 5 days of absolutely nothing planned and nothing to do. And in those 5 days, we only actually left the house twice – once to go check out some wildlife in a nearby zoo and the second time to buy toilet paper when supplies got low (remember it was Thanksgiving week).
That’s it! Nothing else. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.
But you may be surprised when I tell you what the best part was. You’d think that on a trip like that – where you literally have nothing to do all day except eat and relax and then eat some more – you’d think that on a trip like that, I would have gotten a lot of rest.
Well the truth is that I did and I didn’t.
I actually didn’t get a lot of physical rest in terms of sleep. In fact, I think I actually got less sleep than during a normal week. That’s because I made a commitment from the start of the week that I was going to do something that seemed a bit crazy at the time. I was going to wake up every day at 5:30 am and spend the first 1-2 hours of my day with God.
Waking up at 5:30 on vacation?! THAT’S INSANE! Why would anyone do that?
The answer: because I needed rest.
You see, I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of rest in life: OUTSIDE rest and INSIDE rest. Outside rest is your body; it needs to sleep to rest.
But inside rest is different. It is rest for your mind. Rest for your spirit. And that kind of rest doesn’t come from sleep. In fact, for me, that rest is often inversely proportional to your level of outside rest. In other words, the inside rest often comes when I am getting less of the outside rest. The inside rest comes when I wake up early and spend quiet time in the Presence of the Lord – relaxing my mind, relaxing my anxieties, relaxing my spirit.
You probably think I’m crazy right now. Well, if you would have seen me last week, you’d have really thought I was crazy. There I was – on my “vacation” – getting up at 5:30 am and sitting outside on the deck in 40 degree weather underneath the pitch black dark sky. I have on several layers of clothing in an attempt to keep warm as I wait for the sun to come up over the mountains and bring some warmth.
Crazy right? Well if my goal was outside rest, then yes. I was crazy. But that was never the goal. The goal was inside rest. And I can say that I found it last week. My body came back tired, but my spirit was very well rested.
It’s amazing what a little rest can do. It can calm nerves. It can allay fears. It can give confidence in those “hard to trust” circumstances. It can give hope to even the darkest circumstances. Everything looks brighter when you are rested on the inside.
Vince Lombardi – the late great Hall of Fame football coach – used to say it this way: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” The toughest guy on the football field becomes a lot less tough when he is exhausted and has gotten enough rest.
Couldn’t agree more. When my spirit is well rested, there’s nothing I can’t do and no challenge I can’t face. But when it’s not at rest, even the smallest of burdens can knock me off course. Wouldn’t you agree?
Jesus said this: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find REST for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
My challenge for you this week is to set aside some time to get some rest. Maybe you enjoyed some outside rest last week and got your body recharged (and probably OVER-charged if you ate like I did on Thanksgiving). That’s great. You needed it.
But now it’s time to focus on the true rest – the inside rest that your soul truly longs for. A kind of rest that won’t come from sleeping no matter how much you try. It’s the kind of rest that only comes from spending time in the Presence of God. I invite/challenge you to make time to get some of that rest now.
Trust me. You need it.
For discussion: I told you what I did to find inside rest. Now how about you? How/where do you find inside rest for yourself?