I'm training for a half marathon right now. It's my fourth in two years, so this isn't new to me, but following a strict, 12-week training program is. On my schedule each week are at least four days of running, one more day of easy running, cross training, or some "fun" exercise, and two days of rest.
It's kind of weird to see that word written so concretely on a plan for becoming a better runner. It doesn't say "rest - if you want to" or "rest - if you feel tired" or "rest - optional." It says "rest" and offers no other option.
And what might be even weirder is that I have the hardest time following the "rest" part of the plan. I feel like a slacker taking those two days off. I feel like I should be getting SOME kind of exercise. But I'm trusting the plan because it was written by women who have been running and racing and going much longer than myself.
Now, there ARE some days I welcome the day off, especially after a long run the day before. There are days I KNOW my body needs rest and I take it. But there are days I feel like I could run and be just fine and rest seems pointless. I've cheated on my "rest" days because I thought, "One extra run in the week won't hurt." And, more often than not, I've regretted it when speed work or hills came calling the next day.
Through all of this, I'm learning that rest shouldn't be taken only when I desperately need it. Rest was built into my training plan because experienced runners know how much a body can take. And rest should be a preventative measure, not only a reaction to exhaustion.
As followers of Christ, we know well this verse...
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28
Yes, we ARE to come to Him for rest when we are weary, but what if we came to Him on a regular basis for this rest to AVOID, or at least lessen, weariness? Preventative medicine from the Great Physician.
I'm talking about making rest a part of our regular routine. I believe rest is important enough to actually write in my planner or enter into iCal. Rest ranks right up there with doctor's appointments and grocery store trips and all the other necessities I must fit in my week.
A Sunday Sabbath is a great place to start, but what are you doing to find rest, even just 15 minutes a day, during the rest of your week?
I have three boys and homeschool the older two. My husband has an ever-changing schedule as a resident. My life is BUSY, just like yours. And so I've carved a little time in the middle of each afternoon, while the little one naps and the older two read, to just have quiet + rest. This time looks different for me every day, but everyone in the family knows it is my time for not being needed but just being. Even 30 minutes of quiet laundry folding, journaling, praying, reading a book, or napping - gasp! - gets me through the rest of the day.
Jesus asked us to come to Him when we are weary because He knows that life is hard. He's been here on earth and felt all we feel. He knows are natural tendency is to just keep doing until we are ready to fall over. But I'm pretty sure He'd be happy to give that rest BEFORE we get weary, too. He's awesome like that.
How can you make rest - both spiritual and physical - an important, regular part of your daily life?