Give it a rest, he said

I’m a fan of transparency … of saying what I think and not just what sounds nice or what others want to hear. So here’s my daily dose of transparency: I’m swamped, and I need a break from this blog.

I love writing it. I’m thankful for the folks who read it. But the truth is, it doesn’t contribute much to the bottom line of my business. I don’t write it so that I can become famous or wealthy. I write it for two reasons: One, it’s good practice. Two, it’s an outlet for expressing ideas that somewhere deep in my heart I believe can add value to the lives of people who read it.

I don’t know how much value it actually provides to others, but for me the main value is this: It allows me to do something I love for no other reason than because I love it. That’s huge. But when I get stressed over my self-imposed deadlines and my commitment to write a blog every week, then I lose some of the joy that comes from writing it. I need a balance. I need the accountability that drives me to write but without the pressure that steals the joy from it.

For nearly a year, I’ve been praying about how to re-shape this website — growlikejesus.com — into something more useful to the world around me. I’ve thought of turning it into a portal site that provides resources for discipleship, which would open it up to more contributors and reduce the need for me to write as much. But God hasn’t opened the doors to make that happen. And I’ve thought of making it more of a home base for my writing business. For now, I’m leaving it as it is, but I’m cutting back on my blogging. I’m going to shoot for two a month, but it might be one. Really, I’m going to attempt to write as time allows and the Spirit commands. We shall see how often turns out to be.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this quote that I hope expresses how I feel about those who regularly read this blog: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Practicing Rest

One of the key points in Grow Like Jesus is that rest is a critical piece of our walk with God. Jesus rested. So we should rest. What’s that look like? Well, this week, it looks like me somewhere on a beach. So this week’s blog is the attached photo. It’s from a vacation we took last year, but it symbolizes the rest I hope I’m getting while you read this. I hope you’re getting some, too.

Beyond the Obvious: 3 Tips on Finding Rest

Every now and then I notice a wave of articles about research that has proven something we’ve always known. This week contribution? Drumroll, please … Rest matters.

Human beings need sleep. Our bodies need to recharge. We need a good eight hours of sleep, we’re told. And while people who get by on six often think they’re getting enough, research proves their performance suffers.

Followers of Jesus (and others who are scholars of the Old and New Testaments) are usually aware that rest is Biblical. God rested after creating the universe (Genesis 2:2-3), not because He was tired but to set an example (Mark 2:27). Jesus rested (Mark 4:38, 6:31) and promised we can find the ultimate rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

In short, rest helps us stay fit mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, which are all important when it comes to our spiritual growth.

So we should rest. Got it. But how?

If you’re like me, knowing what’s good for you and doing what’s good for you often are two different things. Forcing sleep is particularly challenging. Thankfully, I’m married to a wonderful woman who values rest and has taught me some tricks for sleeping more soundly.

  1. Change your diet. My wife and I generally eat a healthy diet based on The Daniel Plan. I’ve not only lost weight with this approach, but I sleep much better. Research tells us (the obvious) that there’s a high correlation between sleep apnea and obesity, so dieting and exercising to promote physical health also ends up promoting better rest.
  2. Fix your routine. Left to my own desires, I’d stay up late watching television or working or playing games on the computer or ipad. But because I’m married to someone smarter than me, I go to bed relatively early and around the same time each night. I try not to drink anything within a few hours of bedtime. And we turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before we get ready for bed. We pray together during this time. And if it’s nice enough, we walk out on our deck and stargaze for several minutes. (Note: We don’t have a television in our bedroom, something I highly recommend for anyone who wants a healthy marriage.)
  3. Talk to Jesus. Inevitably, we all have those nights when we struggle to fall asleep or when we wake up and can’t go back to sleep. Our thoughts race around from stressful topic to stressful topic. We problem solve. We pre-schedule work. Or we slip into negative scenario building where we waste time imaging the worst things that can happen. A friend of mine taught me that these are perfect opportunities to talk to Jesus. “If I’m having a hard time going to sleep,” he told me, “I figure Jesus must want to tell me something.” Tell Jesus what’s on your mind. Ask Him what He wants to tell you. Have a conversation with the Word. And you’ll be amazed at how often you soon will find rest in His peace.

Note: Here’s a link to 68 verses that touch on rest.