"I'll sleep when I'm dead."
I'm embarrassed how many times those words have come out of my mouth. This seems to be the most humble of brags. I basically was saying, "I'm so busy, but I'm doing it so well. I don't even need sleep. I am completely capable of squeezing the productivity out of every last minute. I'm basically a god." (Jen Wilkin's book None Like Him is a great resource that covers this in one of the chapters. I highly recommend it.)
Of course, I'd never have said that aloud if I had really considered what that statement was saying about my theology.
I've always wanted to be someone whose work ethic was never in question, and who could experience it all and be involved in everything. And now, in this stage of life, I want to experience 24 hours worth of my children every day, but also enjoy a full-time job. And maybe write a book and run a business on the side, because it sounds really fun. And also learn a couple of languages, go back to school, and spend a significant amount of time in the gym and cooking healthy meals that my family thinks taste better than Gushers, PopTarts, and ice cream.
I want to do it all, and you've probably heard me say that sleep is overrated (or more likely, that my daughter thinks sleep is overrated - I'm worried she may take after me more than I'd like); but what is not overrated is rest. Godly rest. Rest that reminds us that we are indeed not God, but that we are limited, have needs, and are not capable of governing time.
I want to be obedient in the way I rest, but I also know that I must be careful not to be a pendulum that quickly swings to the opposite side, going from running as hard and as fast as possible to turning into a perpetual couch potato. If we make rest about schedules, we'll fail every time.
Packed schedules are not the problem; frantic hearts are. Busyness is not a badge of honor, but it's also not the enemy here. Busyness is a tension to managed. With every season of life, there will be busyness, but every season can be abundantly restful for our souls, as we mindfully take up a cadence of contentment and joy that is only found in Jesus.
Busyness is not the opposite of rest. Restlessness is. If your schedule is causing you restlessness, it's time to start saying no to opportunities and obligations. Don't trade peace and rest for chaos. Don't sacrifice what should be your top priorities on the altar of a busy job, busy personal project, or busy social life. But also, don't trade the appearance of rest for disobedience to God.
Recently, I have fallen in love with the book of Ecclesiastes. (I know... it's a weird book to love) I love that God knew we would need to be reminded about the uselessness of our incessant toiling; that our work is nothing in light of the work that He does for eternity. "I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it..." (3:14a)
I constantly need to be reminded to join God where He is working in those things that are eternal and to stop busying myself with every little thing that might peak my interest. I am reminded that there is indeed a time for every activity under the sun (3:1-8), and that I do not hold the keys to when these things should happen. I cannot work harder to force God's hand in my favor. I cannot determine when the time has come for the next chapter with the way that I seek to squeeze productivity out of my days. My days are numbered, and my hours are short; but God does not sleep. (Psalm 121:3-4) He does not need rest. He is not finite.
May we keep our eyes on Jesus as the prescriber of rest, no matter if our schedules are full or loosely populated. May we not correlate a simple halt in activity with rest, but ask God to give us true rest in Him alone.