Around three, when I moved to the sofa, I attempted to pray, and my mind did more drifting than petitioning. It wandered to a recent nuisance I’d encountered at church--a pew neighbor’s incessant talking. Talk. Talk. Talk all through the first song. Gab. Gab. Gab through the second. It’s a repeat performance, one I can usually shut out with closed eyes and lifted hands, but one that got under my skin when it distracted my visitors. I’ve sat in sundry locations, a delight to my husband and pure dread to my comfort-zone-seeking nature, and I’ve noticed distractions can be anywhere. It’s a given in any crowd. Babies will cry. Small bladders will make their demands. Most annoying, my own thoughts will take a leave of absence, and that can happen from any seat. But last night, as I started to pray about what I perceived as irreverence for God’s house and my attitude about it, I discovered a new prayer. A prayer centered on the topic of restlessness. The word seemed appropriate given my flipping and flopping. The more I thought about it, the more I recognized the influence of restlessness, and its reach went far beyond a long-winded chat and the failure to catch some shut-eye.
Restlessness plagues us all. It’s the physical inability to sleep because of steroids and body aches. It’s the roller-coaster ride of anxiety, depression, anger, and any other emotional unrest that disquiets our inner peace. It’s the endless tasks and ever-lengthening to-do list that prods us to hurry at a quickened pace. It’s the boredom that urges us to seek a new and exciting adventure, whether it be one that requires go-go-going or one that encourages mindless phone, computer, and television escapes. I said it before. I’ll say it again. Restlessness plagues us all.
Biblically, a lack of rest comes from the following conditions: torment of enemies, warfare, foolish attitudes and behaviors, strife and anger, jealousy, questioning God about adverse circumstances, slavery to a harsh task master, sorrow of heart and spirit, trouble about someone, personal attacks, fear, and unbelief. These situations reach beyond the Bible’s pages right into our lives and can be applied physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as reasons for our own lack of rest.
Equally accounted, however, are the Biblical illustrations FOR rest. Rest is for those who have peace and quiet resulting from victory over their enemies, who keep the Sabbath holy, who settle things where they will not be moved, who fully rely on God’s help and provision, who take comfort in what is said, who yoke themselves to God, who choose the cross of Christ over the burdens of the world, who cast their cares on the Lord instead of holding onto them, who behold the Lord and hope in His eternal reward, who cease from self-works, and who die in the Lord. While not making these choices gives way to more restlessness, taking these principles and applying them to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lives results in perfect peace, something that reaches beyond the realm affected by situations, a rest even a hard dose of steroids can’t unsettle.
Tip/Tidbit: Looking at the two lists, it’s easy to see why restlessness abounds. Looking at the two biblically-based lists, see if you can determine what is causing your restlessness. From the same lists, define ways to seek the rest the Bible says is available. Are you already in a place of rest? Then, pray for the restless spirit that abounds in our world.