Special thanks to my sister, Audra, for sharing her heart with us in this guest post. So thankful for her life and encouragement to me! ~Kim
Rest, what do I know about rest? I am a single mom trying to give my son the closest thing I can to a “normal” childhood but without one of the main “normal” elements that God designed every child to have – an earthly father. So needless to say, I’m tired and busy, and while I often crave rest I rarely experience it. Just trying to get us to survive to the next day sometimes takes everything I have in me, mentally, physically, and emotionally. So, what do I know about rest? Not much… before this weekend.
Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 says, “For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.”
Before this weekend, I knew that rest was more than physically stopping & consciously breathing, especially for a woman, let alone a mom. My body stops moving long before my mind. It is more than my mind finally ceasing to spin and churn over all that the day (or life) has unleashed on me. Rest is more than the peace I feel when I see a cabin secluded in the woods or a large pasture with horses grazing. It is more than seeing and hearing the ocean, trees, rain, or river. Even more than the peace that overcame my heart every time I was with my husband, while he was here. Some people just breed calmness for me. He did it like no one else ever has. I know that rest is more than, dare I say it, my spirit being fed with my Abba’s sweet Word and song.
Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are rest in their own way but I don’t think I truly knew an earthly complete rest until this weekend. I knew it in my heart, I could feel it pulling at me to experience it but I never did anything about it. There was, as their always is, some excuse as to why not to escape to it.
You see up until Friday, I had never been alone. I don’t mean physically alone, I mean body and mind – peacefully alone. Phone off, people out, secluded and hidden away. I went for the first time ever, on a getaway… by myself. No agenda, no plan (other than a place to sleep) and only questionably healthful boxed dinners from Trader Joe’s, processed foods, and wine. You know, the essentials. 😉 I had always admired the monks who would yearly go on silent retreats or take temporary vows of silence. Oh, to not have anyone talk to me and to not have to talk to anyone else! To just be alone, have everything turned off, my attention only on the here and now. In Psalm 55:6 David writes, “I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.'”
This weekend, for the first time ever, I sat down to read my Bible without even the option of anyone or anything to pull for my attention. No one would call my name. No one would ask anything of me. No expectations from me. There was no work awaiting me. I could devote 100% of my attention to my heavenly Husband, to His creation, to rest – as close as I can get this side of heaven.
As I spent my first few hours on this little rustic getaway, all I could think was, “I get a whole day and another night here tomorrow!” Everything I saw seemed like a gift; the trees, the weather, the smells, the sunset! Even the fact that I was staying in an old remodeled cow barn was a gift – I’ve always wanted to live in a barn. It honestly makes me want to cry because I cannot believe that my heavenly Father would give me such an undeserved blessing. I couldn’t stop staring at the leaves of the cottonwood clapping in the breeze, listening to the birds, crickets, and water. I tried turning on some music but it only annoyed me that I couldn’t hear the beauty around me. “Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (Psalm 116:7)
“I want to do this all the time!” I thought. But no, that would spoil the sanctity of it. “I want to share this with my son!” I thought. But no, that would spoil the solitude and privacy with my Abba and this world of beauty He gave me. This should be just for Him and me, our place. Maybe once a year, something for me to look forward to; like a little taste of heaven.
Maybe you’re not the solitary, nature kind of person. You may be tempted to think your version of this “retreat” is at a spa or with friends. Let me challenge that. Remember Jesus often withdrew to solitude. Luke 5:16, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” God created all of nature (John 1:3) for us to enjoy! I guarantee you the only time I felt alone this weekend was when I could not see His creation. Solitude is a gift and I encourage you not to be afraid of it. You would not believe how many of my friends asked me, “You’re not afraid to go by yourself?” This perplexed me a great deal. I think we may have suppressed our spirit to the point of being afraid of being alone. We don’t trust God to care for us and to protect us. We live in fear of the wrong things, people, judgment, violence, exclusion, not being accepted. We have cell phones “in case of an emergency.” We have doorbells with cameras and audio “just in case.” We have Amazon Prime because we “need it in two days.” We do not trust and wait and rest in our Abba’s arms and provisions. We do it all ourselves. We’ve squelched the spirit and then wonder why we feel so overwhelmed and busy. We don’t fear Him as we should.
Psalm 103:11 – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.”
So, I encourage you, confess your independence and self-sufficiency, and get away from it all. No agenda, no people, no chores, no massage. Believe me, I love a spa day as much as anyone but this isn’t that and that isn’t rest.
My only regret for this trip is that I didn’t do it sooner. And…maybe for one day more. 🙂