It's Time to Slow Down

by Natalie Jourdan

We live in a society that is non-stop. Life seems to be moving at a faster pace now than ever before. From family responsibilities, raising children, careers, social engagements, church meetings and activities, sports, household chores, and management, we have so many things that require our attention and keep us busy. Years ago, when our children were very young, I would look at our empty calendar and intentionally try to find exciting things to add to it. These days, with the many activities of a growing family, I hardly have time to get through one month before the next month’s calendar is full of plans filling the pages. Although many of the plans on our calendar are excitedly anticipated events that we look forward to, these many plans can sometimes weigh us down both mentally and physically. Eventually, if we aren’t careful these busy calendars can drain us to the point that we have nothing else to give. We can easily become worn out, exhausted, and unmotivated. I am familiar with this place. This is a terrible feeling. This is right where Satan wants us: surviving and not thriving, and unable to give or pour into anyone for the glory of God and His Kingdom.

This isn’t what our Lord desires for us. Nor is this the way Jesus lived His life. Consider the son of God who came to earth and lived 33 short years. He knew the plans his Father had for Him. He knew how many people he had to meet, build relationships with, to share the good news of the Kingdom with, yet He knew when it was time to stop. He knew when it was time to slow down to be filled by His Father, in order to be able to continue to pour into those around Him.

How did Jesus do this? He retreated to a quiet place alone to pray. He stopped. He carved out space for Himself and His Father. Alone. Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” There are different occasions in the Bible when Jesus broke away with His disciples for rest and renewal. Mark points out the way Jesus was teaching His disciples the daily commitment and the discipline of taking time to be quiet. Lastly, we see Jesus going off into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray fervently on the night of His arrest. He knew by spending time with His Father, He would be given the strength to endure what was to come. Jesus knew He couldn’t do it all. He knew what the will of His Father was and that’s what He spent His time doing unapologetically. Let’s pause for a minute to praise Him for that.

What does this mean for us today in this world of constant updates, communication with no boundaries, and instant access to the global world around us? It doesn’t matter what decade we are living in or what the current technology or culture is. It doesn’t matter what the world demands of us. The world will take from us exactly what we let it and will leave us empty and worn out. We must look to Jesus, we must follow his example. We are only flattering ourselves if we think our lives are busier than the Jesus’.

The only way to shift from surviving to thriving is to create healthy rhythms in our lives. We must first be intentional about blocking off time on our calendar for true rest. I don’t mean sleeping late one day. I mean having rest of body and soul. This looks different for everyone but it does NOT include binge-watching Netflix or having a social media marathon and vegging out. If anything our overstimulated brains will be left exhausted and not refreshed. Jesus tells us where to go to find rest. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Then in verse 29, He says, in Him you will find rest for your souls. Find what brings you peace and helps you to feel rested and refilled. I enjoy sitting on my deck reading my Bible, or a wonderful book, or simply listening to the birds singing in the trees around our home. My mind can rest and appreciate and enjoy God’s creation around me. Next, we need to practice a daily rhythm of quiet time with God. We MUST build it into our days and write it on our daily schedules. It’s simple, wake up sooner if you’re a morning person or break away alone before bed to spend some time with God if you’re a night owl. It can be 10 minutes or 2 hours, whatever your season of life allows. But it IS a vital part of our growth in the Lord to be spending time daily with Him. Pouring our hearts out to Him as Jesus did and meditating on His word is key to experiencing the power of His peace in our lives. This can be done. We are the ones who set our schedules. We have to be intentional if we want to experience spiritual rest and growth.

Above all, Our Creator knew we would need rest. He intentionally took the seventh day after the creation of the world to rest and He gave us this example. He also created the Sabbath because He knew we would need a day of rest and restoration for our souls. I feel like the establishment of the Sabbath was yet another way God showed His merciful love for us. He knew we would be tempted to work and get lost in the busyness of life and forsake setting apart time for Him, by which He provides nourishment for our souls. I have to step back and evaluate our calendar every few months to make sure we plan these intentional times of rest and refilling. As a mother of five, this is a discipline I am trying to teach my children in our daily lives as I work to practice it myself. I pray as you read this, that you will consider carefully the way you spend your days, weeks, and months. Don’t let the world and life wear you out. Plan a restful time with our Father on your calendar and look for the ways He will fill you up and wrap you in His everlasting peace.

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