Posted by: Philip Rushton | July 4, 2013

Rest

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” but you were not willing. Isaiah 30:15

I have been enjoying a restful vacation this week. I am currently sitting in a condo in Whistler that was graciously made available to us by Julie’s mom’s boss. However, it has taken me a few days to relax. I sometimes feel guilty when I take time off. Though I know it is good for me and my family, it feels odd to have two whole weeks without a project or task to accomplish.

I have been reading Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude while on vacation. In the chapter I read yesterday Merton made reference to Isaiah 30:15. It was a fitting verse to reflect on during this time of rest.

The idea that strength is found through rest and quietness seems very counter-intuitive. I usually try and gain leverage over the problems and challenges of life through analysis, problem solving, skill acquisition, and hard work. How can rest and quietness strengthen us to face the challenges we are up against? If we find this hard to understand we are in good company. It seems that the recipients of Isaiah’s writings felt the same way, for they were “not willing” to heed his advice.

The writer of Isaiah associates rest and quietness with trust. This, I think, is the key to understanding how rest is related to strength. To practice rest and quietness is to assume a posture of dependency. In the act of ceasing from our labor we are trusting that God is in control. The wisdom behind the practice of rest is that it helps us to be still and know that God is God. In essence I am saying that the challenges I face in ministry and life are not solely dependent on me!

My hope is that we would all have the ability to create regular rhythms of rest and quietness in our busy and hectic lives. This, I believe, is the foundation by which we are able to have the strength to face the challenges, contradictions, and anxieties of life. Thomas Merton writes:

“Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison. Silence, then, belongs to the substance of sanctity. In silence and hope are formed the strength of the saints (Is 30:15)”

There is a quote to wrestle with for a couple weeks! Signing off till I get back on July 14!

Phil

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Responses

  1. Merton–spot on–being there in awareness an living there as a reality are not the same–Henry

  2. “but you were not willing”–this cracks me up considering my mom and sister. I feel God is telling them–hey slow down–get well, stay put for now, pace yourselves. Sometimes God forces the “Rest” in order to strengthen mind, body and soul. Just my opinion. What do you think? In repentance AND rest is your salvation. So by me “going on a little mini-vacation, a cabin in the woods,” the “rest” gave me time to consider my own repentance as well!! I don’t think I could have worked through some things/situations I was struggling with in my mind, if I hadn’t scheduled this rest. I am glad you got to go to Whistler. 😉 It is certainly better than a hospital or jail, forced rest, repentance and contemplation!
    We get in such a flurry of things we “think” we “have to” get done, right now, yesterday!
    Merton very intriguing again.
    Shalom,
    Shannon


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