The Weapon of Rest

Artist Josh Garrels wrote a song called “The Resistance.” He writes:

My rest is a weapon against the oppression of man’s obsession to control things.

Over the last few months, I have experienced an extended season of rest and reflection.  This lyric has proven to be a great summary of my time.  Here is how this lyric as impacted me:

Rest is a weapon

More than just taking a nap or just “chilling out,” rest, as created by God, is meant to be an offensive weapon against something. God has intricately woven rest within the fibers of creation: trees “die” in the winter, resting, in order to later produce leaves, shade, and fruit; animals hibernate in the winter to prepare for future seasons; humans will spend approximately 9,000 days (25 years) of their lives sleeping (I know, seems unrealistic for most college students!).

What is the point of all of this resting? We can’t survive without rest, but there is more going on in our rest than just sleeping and recovering. As Garrels wrote, rest is a weapon against oppression. When we rest, we are going on the attack against an enemy that seeks to harm and destroy us! Who or what is this enemy?

The enemy is control

Rest is a weapon against control! We have an obsession to control things in our lives: we seek to control people’s opinions of us, we seek to control the outcomes of our lives, and we seek to control the way things look on our phones, on our bodies, on our cars, etc.  We have schedules to control our time.  We have an obsession with control.  We don’t like the unknown.  We don’t like the unclear. We live very hemmed-in and anxious lives because we are afraid of losing control.

What if we were meant to live out of control?

The essence of freedom is being out of control!

This seems like an oxymoron.  Isn’t the goal of our control more freedom?  Why are we so anxious and fearful then?  We weren’t meant to be in control; we were meant to be free!!  “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm then and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)  True freedom comes when we rest from being in control!

Control is the enemy of faith

In this light, it is easy to see that control has the ability to rob us of our capacity to trust God or to live by faith.  By definition, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).   When we rest, we are actually declaring that someone else (not me!) is in control!

Here are a few others ways you can rest this semester in God:

  • Shut off technology every day for a period of time. Give yourself the gift and joy of silence. Let God speak to you through His Word and His Spirit.
  • Take walks (in the woods, in the mountains, by rivers, around campus) without distractions (phone notifications off, no headphones) and allow yourself the rest of walking throughout creation.
  • Get sleep! In college, my roommate and I decided that we would never study past midnight!  (We stayed up past midnight plenty but not studying.)  We graduated keeping this vow!  It takes planning and discipline, but set yourself up for success by thinking ahead so that you can rest from all your studies.
  • Sit and talk with trusted friends and mentors that will help you process your life through the lens of faith (God’s control).
  • Set aside one day each week to worship with God’s people at church, be with friends, serve the community, slow down, and not study!. The Bible calls this a Sabbath, which means “rest”.

This semester, I pray that we can all grow in the area of rest. We have busy lives. We live in a vibrant and active culture.  All of this is fine and good, but let’s attack our anxiety, our fear, our busyness, and our control with the means that God has given us! Let’s declare to the whole world that God is in control by relinquishing control through the weapon of rest.

Will Witherington