I don’t know if it was because my sleep schedule was disrupted when we switched to Daylight Saving Time, or if it was because the weather fluctuated wildly in western Nebraska over the weekend, but I found myself with a migraine on Wednesday. First, I noticed the build up. My neck was sore, my ear was aching, and I was feeling sick to my stomach. All I kept thinking to myself was, “I can’t get a migraine right now. I have way too much to do.” I decided that the best thing for me to do was go home and take a nap. Perhaps I could cut things off at the pass.
I didn’t feel tired, but I decided to snuggle up with a fluffy blanket on the couch. Two hours later I woke up. I was feeling a lot better, but by evening, all of the migraine symptoms returned (and then some). I went to bed early and woke up the next day still hurting.
On the third day, I was frustrated. I was trying to rest. I was trying to take care of myself, but I just couldn’t take one more step. I posted about it on Twitter and lamented that it was supposed to be sermon writing day. I needed to find a way to push through.
A dear person who I believe was the voice of God to me replied, “How much more does your body need to do before you listen to it and rest?”
I’m a do-er. I get stuff done. I stay on top of my deadlines and finish things on time – or preferably early. But, what about when you can’t take another step? What about when your body says, “No more?”
Some of us face this situation more regularly than others. For those of us with autoimmune conditions or chronic illness, we may regularly hit the wall and have to rest. This week I’ve been asking myself, “How can I let more light into my life, even when I’m so weary I can’t take another step?” I don’t have all the answers, but I am growing to believe that when our bodies are tired, we let in more light by resting.
I am reluctant to embrace my limitations. I would rather push through than admit that I need some help or some rest. But, I am learning that embracing our limitations is an act of worshiping the God who is not limited by the fragility of flesh. In allowing myself to fall asleep on the couch, I close my eyes on doing things on my own strength, and I allow myself to receive from the God who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
Reader 1: After creating everything that we can see and all that we can’t see, God rested from the work of creation.
Reader 2: “On the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3).
Reader 1: God recognized the sacredness of the seventh day, and invited us into the rhythm of work and rest. This rhythm was intended for our benefit, to restore our weary spirits, and to heal our tired bodies.
Reader 2: Yet, we get caught up in the cycle of productivity. We struggle against an endless inbox and neverending to-do lists. We face the temptation to work ourselves sick.
Reader 1: Just like on the seventh day of creation, God invites us again and again to rest, not just when we can’t push through any longer, but as a rhythm and a habit.
Reader 2: To a weary and hurting people, Jesus said, ““Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Reader 1: Jesus invites us to bring our burdens to him. He does not leave us crushed under the weight of our own expectations, or under the weight that others have placed on us. Instead, he offers us rest and he bears our burdens. We light a candle today and ask God to help us receive the light of rest and to find renewal in the light of Christ. <light candle at this time>
Reader 2: May we find the courage to place our burdens at the feet of Jesus, who promises to be with us always.
Masterful God, you made the world with creativity and rhythm. You created everything we see and all that we cannot see. Even still, you saw fit to proclaim rest holy. We struggle to receive rest and the light it brings into our lives. We might push against rest because of our expectations for ourselves or because we might be afraid of how others will respond when we take care of our health and our bodies. Help us to rest in you. Refresh us in your light, and whisper to us that your way isn’t burdensome. Your way leads to life. Amen.
Other posts in the Lengthening the Light series