“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
―John Lubbock, The Use Of Life
My childhood summers were idyllic. Unfortunately, this ruined me once I grew up and faced the Real World. Adult life does not stop for the summer.
My sister and I played daily in the pool and on our lunch “break” watched reruns of The Brady Bunch and The Andy Griffith Show. There were vacations, ice cream, cousins, friends and my bestie, Carrie. With our mom, we visited the library because books and summer belong together. Our grandparents treated us to fish and chips on Friday nights. We covered miles of territory with our roller skates and bikes.
Obviously, replicating the activities of yore is not the answer. I live a grown up life and summer is full of adult responsibilities, as is the rest of the year. Yes, beach trips, ice cream, and novels, etc. make for lovely summer vibes. Yet, what I’m grasping for here is the feeling of summer; the atmosphere of my heart. A soul rest. As a child, I knew peace, rest, safety, joy, and serenity in the summertime. I felt no guilt while eating ice cream, reading books, giggling with buddies or soaking in the sun. I had no agenda and did not measure my worth by what I accomplished.
So, if you and I were sitting around the table together, I would ask you your thoughts on this. How do you soak in the season? How do you feel summer in the midst of your responsibilities? How do you find soul rest?
The poem at the beginning of this post claims that “rest is not idleness… rest is by no means a waste of time.” A beautifully written permission slip. And, I wholeheartedly agree. Yet, why do I often measure my day by the completed tasks on my to-do list? A self-pat on the back for completed tasks? Or twinges of guilt that I haven’t done enough?
Is mentally filling out my report card a healthy way to end my day, or rate my life? Do I have permission to rest without guilt?
The Bible says I do. We do. We find beautiful passages written on rest. My favorite scripture on this subject is Matthew 11:28-30. Read how Eugene Patterson words this passage:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
God’s permission slip.
In spending time with God, we learn how to really rest. This rest is not idleness. We see the example of a Savior who napped, took time away from the crowds, enjoyed parties and feasts. He never hurried.
Therefore, I may gift myself grace and permission by letting the to-do’s go and lingering in the moment. This does not come easy but I am getting better; it’s a practice of balance. Jesus is my teacher as I learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I pursue soul rest.
My version looks different from yours. But by keeping company with Him each summer day, we learn to lighten our load. We discover how to live freely and lightly. No matter the season or situation we find ourselves, soul rest comes from walking with God, talking with God, following His example, and savoring His word.
“Rest.. is by no means a waste of time.” These days will never come again. I choose to soak them up.
Delicious summer. Delightful Savior.