Rest and Risk

Resting at the lowest point in North America, Death Valley National Park, California
Resting at the lowest point in North America, Death Valley National Park, California

A few weeks ago, someone told me, “The level of your rest directly affects your tolerance for risk.”  What she was trying to express is the concept that we must get the rest our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits need in order to live life to the fullest.  People she knows are all fired up for taking a risk to do what they really want to do with their lives – but then they get tangled up in work, daily life, etc., and it all wears them down to a point where they can’t face the thought of such a huge risk (see Hebrews 12:1).  It’s not that the security is more evident after being in work, daily life, etc. as much as the person is just too tired to feel as though they could handle the upheaval and change that risk will bring into their lives.

Hiking the Castle Trail in Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Hiking the Castle Trail in Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Someone else told me, “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.”  His point is that we can only trust God so far before we’re going to be walking out on the water, figuratively speaking.  If we’re not willing to risk looking strange, acting weird, or even failing, our trust and faith in God will be necessarily limited.

Relaxing at the top of Electric Pass, White River National Forest, Colorado
Relaxing at the top of Electric Pass, White River National Forest, Colorado

In America today, we’re told that we must do it all: We must work hard at our job.  We must work hard for our families, spend time with them, and raise the kids well.  We must be involved in volunteer, community, and church activities.  We must keep up with our friends on social media.  We must keep up with culture by watching movies and TV shows, or else we’ll be out of touch with everyone else.  Fill up every minute of every day to use the time, or else you might end up wasting your life.

Hiking up the Slot in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico
Hiking up the Slot in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico

The problem with this mentality is that it leaves us without a concept of rest.  We sleep at night, of course, but that’s only physical rest if your mind, emotions, and spirit are still trying to keep up with what is going on during the day.  We run and run and run, trying to do and accomplish everything we’re told is important.

Log jam on Black Creek, New York
Log jam on Black Creek, New York

As we run and run, without a concept of rest, we run out.  Our health breaks down, we become anxious, our spiritual life suffers, and our minds race and run to the point where we can’t even function.  Far too many of my friends and acquaintances have had to deal with anxiety, depression, and similar ailments simply because their bodies, minds, and emotions are giving up, unable to deal with the constant stress.

A storm near the Swiftcurrent Lookout, Glacier National Park, Montana
A storm near the Swiftcurrent Lookout, Glacier National Park, Montana

If this wasn’t enough, as we run out, we also are too overwhelmed to consider the new thing that God is calling us to – the things that He has put in our lives to make His kingdom come on earth and the things that are part of His beautiful plan for us.  The risk is just too great – we can’t even deal with the old, so how can we step into the new?

Resting below the Tunnel in Arches National Park, Utah
Resting below the Tunnel in Arches National Park, Utah

Somehow, we need to find a way to rest.  To get enough sleep.  To do something that is relaxing.  (Rest is far more than doing nothing – I know plenty of people who rest by taking a 10 mile hike, gardening, painting, cycling, baking, or whatever else allows them time to think, process, and maybe even exercise creative muscles.)  To allow our minds, bodies, and emotions the time they need to process and recover from the stresses of life.

Views from Santanoni Peak, Adirondack Park, New York
Views from Santanoni Peak, Adirondack Park, New York

It’s only through rest that we can embrace a life that God has given us and run the race that He has put before us.  Athletes put “rest days” into their schedules as a way of gaining greater strength and being prepared for the tests of big games and important meets.

Sunrise outside of Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Sunrise outside of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light… you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:30, 29b).  It’s from the space of rest that we are prepared for God to move in us and through us.  It’s through rest that we embrace the risk of following God’s plan for our lives.  Your level of rest determines the level of active trust in God that is fruitful in your life.

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