“You need to get plenty of rest” my surgeon said to me after my recent neck surgery. Hey, have you ever tried to rest while you were in the hospital? Now that’s a laugh. A hospital stay and rest are like two magnets repelling each other. Now don’t get me wrong, that which stood between me and restful sleep was well-meaning interruptions. The lady who cleaned my room, the nutritionist who came to take my meal order, the fellow who needed to draw my blood, the maintenance crew in to fix the light above my head, the regular checks of my vitals, the daily visits of the surgical staff, the times for my meds, and the many “How are you doing, Mr. Wilson?” visits throughout the day and night. Wow, those folks were there for me and their work made my stay helpful. Yet sleep was either interrupted by their visits or postponed, knowing they soon would be coming…So much for “You need to get plenty of rest”.
How much rest is your soul getting? Are you living a life of peace – stress free? Life and soul rest are two more magnets repelling each other. Can we really live a stress free life? There are so many sources for the stress we live with. Like my hospital stay, rest is denied us by so many good people. Our families, relatives, friends, workmates, and even fellow church members so often add to our load of stress. Someone has said, “There’s no friction between your two hands until you begin to rub them together. Then the heat comes”. Oftentimes our greatest stresses come in the closeness of our everyday relationships.
“Oh, to get out of here and get into my own bed” was a persistent thought I had in the hospital. Now I’m home…and sleep still does not come easy. Why? Pain is the reason. In the hospital, all I had to do was push the button on my pain pump and soon relief came. Now I have to rely on medication by mouth and the frequency doesn’t come often enough. Adding to that, I have to try and sleep with a neck brace; restrictive and uncomfortable. And added to all of that, my incision is in the back of my neck; from the base of my skull to the top of my rib cage. Whatever position I try to sleep in I put pressure on this tender and sensitive area, often causing my brace to rub against it. All of what I’m describing is normal for the surgery I have had and is no more than what I expected going into the surgery. My point is this, the pain fights against my instructions to “Get plenty of rest”.
And oh, the hurts in all of our lives sure work against a life of rest. Should we be surprised that stress brings stress to our lives? Not a one of us is immune to adversity. It comes often and specializes in rocking our boat. And like the disciples of Jesus riding out the storm on the Sea of Galilee, we too get unnerved when our storms rock the boat.
Let me go back to my hospital visit for a moment. The best sleep I’ve had in years came during those hours I was out by anesthesia during surgery. Yes! That was deep and restful sleep – no cares in the world – stress free – needed rest. But in order to enjoy that sleep I had to submit myself to the control of the anesthesia. That is the only way for any of us to experience soul rest. We need to submit to the full control of God’s anesthesia – the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 “…I will give you rest” How does that happen? Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 when he says “…and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”. Let me give you an example. Suppose you were digging a large hole in the hot sun. I come along and see you sweating and you appear to me to be given out. So I say to you, “Let me give you a rest”. If I gave you a rest, what would that look like? It means that you would give me the shovel, you’d get a cool drink, you’d pull up a chair in the shade and you would watch me dig the hole.
Friend, here’s my prescription for your stress burdened life. “You need to get plenty of rest”. Why not turn the shovel over to the Holy Spirit and let Him live His life in you? All of us need Jesus to stand up in our rocking boat and take control. “Peace be still!”
There are two more magnets that repel each other – the Holy Spirit in control and stress. The two can’t exist together. And the end result is rest for you – sweet rest. Let’s say together, “Lord, hook me up to Your anesthesia”.
Having turned the shovel over to Him-once again,