_ Study _
That day when evening came, he [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
_ Read _
It’s funny to me how my niece acts when she doesn’t want to take a nap. All the signs point to the fact that it’s time; she’s not content doing anything, she rubs her eyes, voices her crankiness, and yawns over and over again. Closing her tired eyelids for a second she snaps them back open—lying down to rest is exactly what she needs, but she will not give in.
This is quite often the story of my life. I know how exhausted I am, how easy and beneficial it would be to take a 15-minute catnap or plan a night of rest, and yet I fight it for so many reasons.
I should be doing something productive.
I should be able to do it all without rest.
I should get _________ done before I earn a nap.
I should be calling my friend I haven’t talked to in awhile or getting together with so-and-so.
Notice what each of those reasons start with? Should. Let me go ahead and say, shoulds are usually no good. They’re most often birthed from guilt, from something we feel we ought to do versus truth of what we need to do.
Imagine for a moment, that you’re one of the disciples in this passage in Mark. You’re coming off of a crazy bout of ministry, and Jesus suggests you leave the crowds behind and go to the other side. So you climb in a boat and off you go. Jesus, exhausted from all the traveling and teaching, lies down to sleep. Suddenly a gnarly storm appears. The boat thrashes violently in the waves and water rushes over the edge. You and the other disciples start to panic. Your life flashes before your eyes as you imagine this being your last moment alive before you drown at the bottom of the sea. Trying to hold on to the edge of the boat without slipping, you look over and see Jesus still asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat.
He should not be sleeping! You think. He should be calming me! He should be helping the rest of us disciples scoop the water out of the boat so we survive! He should be awake! From your perspective, Jesus should have been doing something more productive in that moment; but instead, He slept.
Jesus loved his disciples dearly; so, of course, He wanted to tend to their needs. But He knew that he needed to stop and rest.
If even Jesus needs to rest with all the important things He has to do, don’t you think we need rest, too?
Over and over again in scripture, we see Jesus prioritizing rest. And yet for some reason, we guilt ourselves into listening to what we think we should be doing instead of what we know we need—rest.
With a plethora of get-togethers, events, and a long list of additional to-dos, the “shoulds” during the Advent season is overwhelming. If you feel the need to rest, do it. Don't sacrifice your mental or physical health. And don't give in to "shoulds." Give yourself the permission to say “no” and remember that rest is what enables us to do the work God has set before us.
My prayer is that today we would follow Jesus’ example, say “no” to any “shoulds” that bubble up in our minds, and take time to rest.
_ Practice _
Today I want to challenge you to deep breathe for 15 minutes.
Flip on the Christmas lights, get comfortable on your favorite couch or chair, and turn on a soothing Christmas playlist on Spotify (check out my A Restful Advent playlist). Once you’re settled, close your eyes and focus on your breath. For the next 15-minutes, take deep, wholesome, tummy rising, relaxing breaths. With every breath you take, relax a different part of your body. If you're having a hard time quieting your mind, shift your focus to things that bring you joy (ex: your family, your friends, peace in Christ, your favorite dessert, an island vacation) - this will help you relax. As you lie there, if reasons not to rest come flooding in, proclaim the truth that rest is a priority and the list of to-dos can wait.
Deep breathing is an underrated, highly beneficial practice that slows your body physically and is proven to decrease anxiety (and can even stop an anxiety attack in its tracks) by increasing oxygen that reaches your heart.
If you aren’t at home to snuggle into the couch, try deep breathing for 15 minutes while you’re sitting at your desk or driving. The benefit can be experienced no matter what you’re doing.
_ Extra Resource _
Dear Rockstar, You need a day off – article on Grit & Virtue
This devotional is part of the A Restful Advent series.
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