I have just returned from 10 days in Vieques, a small, scruffy island off Puerto Rico. Sally Jo stayed on for another 9 days with Barb, a mutual friend. Over a period of nine years we have been on the island at least 18 weeks. During these years we have taken many other trips, in and outside the US, yet, almost every year we return to Vieques.
Why? Because we can enjoy without thinking very much! Almost no stress. We know the roads, stores, beaches, and the basic “rules” of the place. We have a daily pattern: before breakfast we drive ten minutes to Sun beach, arriving about 8:00 AM. The sun is warm, the breeze is light, and the waves gently roll onto the wide, clean beach. We leave our “shoes” in the car and walk from one end of the beach to the other at a pretty fast clip – then return walking with small waves washing over our feet. 45 minutes. We may see two or three people. It is beautiful, no question. But why walk this same beach at the same time of day perhaps 100 times? It is beautiful. Nothing surprising. Very relaxing.
In the evening Sally Jo and I may sit in canvas chairs on the deck of the casita – no bugs, screens, neighbors, utilities, almost no noise. Just us, a few fluffy clouds, bright stars and a slice of the moon. Often we say little – why talk? We are able to talk all day. We sit together, feeling thankful to God, who is also present. We rest and regroup – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I realize I have not been very good at “resting”. It seems there is always something more I feel I should do..
I find it is easy to give God the credit for creation, the bible, my salvation. I say God is eternal, unchangeable, and all knowing, powerful, wise, loving, etc. I look at my life and it is easy to see that God prepares work for me to do – and prepares me for the work He has for me to do. This being true, why does God give me so much to do – and tell me to rest? The problem must not be in what God expects of me…but in my perception of what God expects of me. If I am too busy to rest, which God tells me I must do (creation – rested 7th day, 10 commandments), something in my life must be out of whack! My time must be going to what God considers “non-essentials”. This could mean that I change my lifestyle – or my job. It could mean that I volunteer less…and refuse to be talked into things I should not spend time on.
Sally Jo and I have always given 10% or more of our income to the Lord for His work. To do this has required our family to do without many things. With the 10% we could buy our children nicer clothes, or buy a better car, or perhaps take “grander” vacations. There is always something we can spend money on. But we have said 10 % is God’s….period!
I have come to realize that just as we set apart money for God, I must set time apart for rest – in obedience to God. And the time for rest must be a top priority – according to the God who made me, loves me, has plans for me, etc.
I read Hebrews 4: on the casita deck and in the first eleven verses the word “rest” is included 10 times. Rest seems to be a package – like the different kinds of rest are really one “rest”. Is it possible to rest physically…and not be resting in other areas? Perhaps not. I can be sitting still…and have a thought that causes my pulse and blood pressure to go up. Medical research speaks to the undeniable relationship between our mind and our body. I am not resting if I am lying in a hammock in the warm sun…trying to solve a work or relationship problem, or feeling angry, or worried about… I will not buy the idea that rest is just a change from what we normally do
The 10 commandments tell us “six days you shall labor…the seventh…you shall not do any work…the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” God has made the day holy…He does not tell us to make it holy, but God does clearly say…to rest on this holy day.
If I take this seriously, I should not be writing the In Partnership With God mostly on Sunday afternoon and evening. As much as I enjoy doing this, it is work! If I do not have this Sunday block in which to write…I am sure I can write at a different time in the week – which means something of lesser value will need to go. I should say “this I will do!” Ouch.