This blog references our sermon from October 16, 2016 titled “Rhythms of Rest.” Click here to watch or stream this sermon.
As a relatively young pastor there are certainly times when I preach on issues in which I have little life experience. But preaching on rest a couple weeks ago was not one of those times. Striking the right rhythm of physical rest is not something our family always gets right, but it is something we are always working on. The last few years have really shaped our family’s view of rest. Leading Mercy Hill church finally brought me to a crossroads: what do you do when there is more to do than you can do? In short, we must trust that God is sovereign. Physically resting even when there is more we could be doing is a solid way of saying “God, we will follow your plan not our own.” Here are 3 practical lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. You Ain’t Superman
If you walk into my office, there are about 10 sentences like this written on the board. They all encompass a lesson I have learned on the journey of church planting. Most of them, like this one, were learned the hard way. In the first two years of planting, I didn’t slow down much if at all. Finally, it began to catch up with me. I learned that refusing to sleep, trading exercise for long working hours, not eating well, and never taking time recover from illness is a rejection of the real world. Living in that way assumes that I am Superman which, of course, I am not (see heading). I had to learn that desire and hunger for ministry do not actually change the reality of my being a fragile human in a real world. So, for example, two years ago I would have preached all day on a Sunday even though I had a touch of the flu. Now, however, I know that it’s God’s church, I am not Superman, and Sunday will go off just fine with me in the bed.
2. Balance Is a Myth
Bruce Miller, in his book Your Life in Rhythm, talks about how rhythm is a better paradigm than balance. The simple reason is that life isn’t balanced and we know it. If we have the expectation that our work week, family lives, and church involvement will always look the same, then we will have no margin for heavy seasons. Life is rhythmic. There are times when we run hard and times when we slow down. If we don’t understand that, we will not know how to take time off during the holidays or put in overtime during a high sales season. We won’t know how to run hard when a new semester starts or prepare for it by resting beforehand and after. Practically for us, shifting from balance to rhythm starts with the calendar. If we know the church will be in a peak season, we want to make sure there is time before and after to rest. It is good and right to run hard climbing the mountain. You just can’t live on top without ever coming down.
3. We Are Whole People
I didn’t actually learn this in the last few years, but it has become more meaningful to me as of late. While this blog is speaking directly to physical rest, we must always be aware that there is a soul rest undergirding it all. When God made Adam in Genesis 2, He formed him from the wet dust of the earth and then breathed life into him. He formed or shaped him as a potter forms clay then breathed in and the man came to life. We are whole people, and it is impossible to draw lines about where the physical part ends and the soul part begins. It doesn’t work like that. We are both. Therefore, having rest in one area presupposes rest in the other. In other words, restlessness of the soul can disturb our physical rest. It is why in an age where people can’t take all their vacation days and the CDC names lack of sleep as a major problem in American society, we need Jesus’ words now more than ever.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)