About a year ago, I read Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, by Ruth Haley Barton. She writes, “Most of us are more tired that we know at the soul level. We are teetering on the brink of dangerous exhaustion, and we really cannot do anything else until we have gotten some rest.” And yes, she means physical rest. The body and soul are intimately connected and affect the other. And when we pursue rest, we are in a position to deeply and personally experience the reality of God with us and in us through the practice of silence and solitude as we re-learn how to read the Scriptures not so much as a textbook, but as the living and personal words of God.
I don’t plan to write a full review here, except to say that my soul feels refreshed with the possibility of really living from a core that is defined by a supernatural peace, a deep rest, a simple faith, a sincere love, a vital hope and contagious joy. After all, the truest truth in my life is that I am already complete in Christ, possessing his perfect righteousness as my own. I forget that a lot and need my mind renewed.
This is where silence and solitude enable me to listen to God—to hear the Spirit remind me that I am new. That I am his. That I am loved and accepted without reservation in Christ. That he is fond of me and even treasures me as a son. To hear the voice of Jesus say, as he said to his first disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:30). Yes, physical rest actually promotes soul rest. Maybe it’s time to stop doing and start resting… so that we can listen and be renewed by God’s Spirit. For as they say, “You have to be rested to be ready.” And I want to be ready to preach the gospel, to lead our church, to love my wife and to disciple my children. So, help me remember that rest comes before ready.