Friday, April 26, 2013

Pause to Feel a Breeze

I have a confession to make: I have been tired this week, maybe for the last two.  My energy has been down; my creativity has been down; my inertia has been down.  I have been sluggish in getting projects completed.  The work that I have put out the last week or so has not been my best.  In short, I am in a funk.  And, based on conversations with colleagues and students, it seems that I am not alone. 

Life has a way of wearing us down, of sapping our energy to the point that we lament how tired we are.  We eat correctly, we get the right amount of sleep, we take multivitamins, we exercise, we keep our minds active, and yet we find ourselves struggling to make it through the day.  There are a lot of reasons for why weariness comes upon us, yet that is not the problem.  The problem is how we work through the tiredness.  How do we recharge or rejuvenate?

I enjoy the film Fearless with Jet Li because it is not simply a martial arts film.  It is a story about a fighter focused on revenge who became a warrior focused on serenity.  Li plays Huo Yuanjia, the founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.  In one scene of the film, while he is living in a quiet farming village, Huo watches the villagers stop what they are doing and stand stoically.  A breeze passes through the village, and all of the people are refreshed by the breeze.  It takes Huo awhile to understand the significance of stopping to feel the breeze.  When he does, it realizes the spiritually cleansing and enriching experience of allowing the moment to wash over him.

Naturally, there is a connection between this moment in the film and our lives as Christians.  The connection between a breeze, the Spirit of God, and rest is seen throughout Scripture, starting with Creation and ending with Revelation.  There are several well-known passages that deal with rest and renewal.  However, the one that I want to share with you is from Hebrews 4.  There, the unknown disciple writes, “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.  For all who enter into God’s rest will find rest from their labors, just as God rested after creating the world.  Let us do our best to enter that place of rest” (4:9-11a, NLT).  Scholars will note that there are both present and future connotations to the use of “rest” in this passage.  Yes, death and eternal life will be “rest” for people of faith. 

Yet, there is also the concept of finding “rest” in our day-to-day lives here.  As Frances Taylor Gench writes, “It is a present reality in our lives when, in the midst of whatever befalls us in our journey of faith, we experience the peace, assurance, and confidence that comes from knowing that our lives are secure in the purposes and promises of God.  That sense of security and well-being is also a foretaste of the eternal rest we will one day enjoy in fullness.”[1]  So, today, if you are feeling a little tired, a little sluggish, I encourage you to take a moment or two and “rest” in the presence of God.  Go outside, walk around, and wait for a breeze.  When it comes, stand still, allow the breeze to wash over you, and rest with God.    

[1]Francis Taylor Gench, Hebrews and James, Westminster Bible Companion (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1996), 31. 

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