Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing: I am NOT a morning person. Sleep is a rare and valuable commodity in my world, and I love it. I crave it. I dream about it. Really.
But something has been driving me from the comforts of my bed in the quiet, early morning – a search for true, deep rest.
A painful, tumultuous season of life has revealed that I actually know very little about rest. I can collapse on my bed in a heap of exhaustion, sleep like a log for 7 or 8 hours and wake up feeling . . . exhausted. The stars can supernaturally align so that my children actually take naps at the same time, meaning I can actually take a nap at the same time, and still, when I wake, my heart feels . . . chaotic.
Sleep – in a disturbing, twisted altering of my reality – has become (sometimes) an indicator of a lack of rest. It is my escape, my attempt to shove aside the unsolvable hurt and silence the unanswerable questions, my best effort to simply not think.
This is NOT rest.
And so, more and more frequently, I have forced my weary body, soul and spirit out of bed in the early morning hours to soak in the stillness before the rest of my house wakes. Here, soothed by the gentle whispers of a voice that spoke the universe into existence, I am discovering what it means to rest.
My two year old daughter loves to play with pretty things. She puts on her sparkly necklaces and says, “Look, Mama! I’m pretty!” And she begins to dance in rather clumsy circles around the room, her hair becoming more and more wild by the minute. But she is breathtaking. And the Holy Spirit whispers to me, “That is what rest looks like.”
My five month old son lies on a blanket in the middle of the floor, trying out his voice for anyone who cares to listen. A blissful stream of squeals and gurgles and coos (and drool) pours out of him as he kicks his legs and waves his arms with everything he’s got. He knows we adore him, and he gives me a smile that would turn the hardest heart to mush. And the Holy Spirit whispers to me, “That is what rest looks like.”
It is not that they are wholly unaware of the difficult time we are in. Children are uncannily perceptive. But they are at rest because they know they are loved and because absolutely nothing outweighs their unbridled joy at discovering the world around them. They are firmly convinced that even if something is unpleasant right now, it will all be better in a moment.
This is how I am learning to measure true rest – by the depth of my confidence in the Lord’s unfailing love, by the ease with which my heart is able to give way to joy, and by the degree of intensity through which my hope can remain unwavering.
And when I trade an hour of precious sleep for an hour of His uninterrupted voice, the chaos in my heart is chased away by the joy of discovering Him, and in its place I find cleansing, penetrating, soothing, life-giving. . .