Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. I will give you rest. Follow My teachings and learn from Me. I am gentle and do not have pride. You will have rest for your souls. For My way of carrying a load is easy and My load is not heavy.” (NLV)
What does rest mean to you? Is rest literal or can it be done through actions such as meditation or community meals? What if rest can be achieved through worship and celebration or physical activity? What if prayer is a time of rejuvenation?
At the end of September, my best friend invited me to go on a retreat with her to tap into our “sacred rhythms with God,” I was busy planning a long-awaited wedding reception and work was piling up as we got closer to Christmas, so my first reaction was to turn her down. The idea of slowing down terrified me. What if I rest for a few days and miss prime work time and I never catch back up?
Well, I decided to go – mostly because I wanted to see my friend that had just recently taken a job in another part of NC. On the second day of the retreat, we went on a hike that was listed to be a mile, out and back. The trail began simply enough, but as we went further, slick roots and rocks permeated the landscape making the last third of the trail rather treacherous. Throughout my MANY stops, I was sure I would not make it back to the trailhead. I prayed for safety throughout the hike, and that I wouldn’t take a tumble into the freezing river the rushed beside the trail.
Through the grace of God and an unbelievable amount of sweat, we made it back to the trailhead. As we rode back to the cabin, I couldn’t help but think of Matthew 11:28-30. The hike was hard work, and for most of it, I carried the burden of self-doubt. In those moments of rest when I prayed for safety, I felt the burden lighten. As I prayed and wiped sweat off my face, I felt the rest only the Lord can give – a form of rejuvenation that pushed me to finish what I believed to be an impossible task.
As the weekend ended and we headed back to the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, I took the drive back from Banner Elk to reflect. While I initially believed rest was only achieved through sleep, I quickly learned the versatility of it. Taking time to meditate or pray can be a deeper form of rest, and physical activity, no matter how daunting, can be as beneficial as a good-night’s sleep.
By Savannah Dougherty, Communications Coordinator