to rest is to trust

September 21, 2009 | 4 Comments

Rob Bell twittered these words a few weeks ago. Helpful and important words I think.

But this morning, the importance of rest was given an exclamation mark in my reading of Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart. In a chapter on the relationship between the body and spirituality, Willard writes about the importance of Sabbath. Taking the time to rest is care for our body and helps us put our body to use for the glory of God. But he pushes this concept of rest even farther:

So if we really intend to submit our bodies as living sacrifices to God, our first step well might be to start getting enough sleep. Sleep is a good first use of solitude and silence. It is also a good indicator of how thoroughly we trust in God.

Sleep has been a persistent topic of conversation in our house. I’m paying more attention to my own sleep patterns. Willard’s words offer me helpful perspective. To avoid sleep is to make an idol of my own need to get something done or make something happen.

There has been increased attention in recent years on what Americans eat. People point to increased food allergies and health problems as a result of dietary issues. That’s an important conversation, and Michael Pollan and others have helpful things to say about the food (or non-food) that we eat.

But it’s time we looked not only at food, but at our patterns of sleep and rest. God’s commandment to the Israelites to take a day of rest every week is the first mention in history of the idea of a weekend. And I think it is time for followers of Jesus to again proclaim the value of rest and sleep in living life to the fullest.

  • Zac

    Couldn’t agree more John. I’ve also found a substantial connection between my own effectiveness and the rhythm of my rest and diet. 3 hours of sleep + 1 hour of feeding the kids breakfast + 3 more hours of sleep does not = 6 hours of sleep + one hour of feeding the kids breakfast.

    I love the title of Zach Lind’s blog and I share his quest of “finding rhythm”. Good article on living life to the fullest.

  • gary

    Amen. Thanks for giving me an excuse to sleep in.

  • Andy

    I give a hearty amen to this. In dealing with the anxiety I’ve struggled with, getting enough sleep is a major factor in how well I’m able to deal with stress. Eating healthy too…

  • I had the opportunity recently to spend a day with about 70 pastors hearing from Eugene Peterson discuss the church, ministry and rest (out here in Scotland). He made several really interesting points, as he has elsewhere, but one of the things which really struck me is that he said in all the years he practiced Sabbath he never once looked forward to it. He, like most of us, is/was a real achiever who loved his work. He came to love Sabbath, I think, but only in the midst of it. I thought that was interesting. His framework for Sabbath was pray and play, and he and his wife tried to figure out what that looked like together. Interesting.