Such a great word. When I hear this word or see it in print, my body has this instantaneous reaction where I just let out a big sigh and exhale a breath that has been held up captive inside my lungs. Perhaps it is a breath of anticipation, or longing, or hoping. Rest does not come to us easily, but it is so valuable. It is valuable for our body, mind, and spirit. The body itself was designed to function from a state of rest. Not only to function but to thrive.
Take your muscles for example. A muscle’s fibers are elastic, they can stretch/lengthen and they can tighten/shorten depending on how they have been used. However, either of these states will compromise a muscles capacity for force. While it can still lift, move, pull and push, the power and strength contained in the muscles fibers are weakened and compromised.
However, a muscle is at its peak performance and power when it is at its normal resting length. In this state, the muscle fibers are neither too long or too short. A muscle at normal resting length is a muscle loaded with all the potential of strength and power it was designed for.
Interestingly enough, there is a strong correlation between our physical body and our spiritual body. The designer of both of them seemed to weave similar principles throughout each level of our design. Just as our muscles perform best when they are at normal resting length, so does our internal state.
We were designed to function out of a state of rest
In fact, we are at our most powerful functioning capacity when we function out of that place of rest. What does that rest look like? Having a mind muscle that is neither too tight/anxious or too weak/undisciplined. Anxiety and stress can shorten our mind muscle, causing us to respond out of emotion, instinct, anger, and distress. An undisciplined mind can cause us to be, disconnected, unfeeling, numb and apathetic. In either state, we are functioning at a capacity lacking in power and strength.
So how do we train our mind muscle to function from its normal resting length? Through resting in Christ. Paul commands us in Hebrews 4:11 to strive to enter his rest. It’s a choice, it’s tough, but it’s essential. Once we enter his place of rest it is his Spirit working through us, enabling us, equipping us, his power working among our thoughts and empowering our choices.
The first step is awareness, just like you can sense when a muscle is tightening up, you can sense when stress or anxiety is creeping in to shorten your mind and weaken you- take those thoughts captive, bring your focus back to Jesus and take two minutes to rest in His arms, crawl into his lap and just be. Allow Him to fill you with what you need and to give you the power to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.