"The Lord your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land." (Joshua 1:13).
After I was sick this summer, I had several people telling me that I needed to get more rest and take better care of myself. I was a little hurt and frustrated because for the first time in a while, I actually had been taking pretty good care of myself. I was exercising regularly and paying much better attention to my diet. I had lost some weight. I have almost always gotten at least 8 hours of sleep since I cannot stay up late doing projects like many friends (I think I'd be much more organized around here if I did!). So, I couldn't think of anything in my behavior that would have sparked a serious illness in my spinal cord.
The message I was feeling from different camps was a message that it was my fault I got sick. That was a horrible feeling during my illness, feeling guilt for all everyone was going through on account of me. And it was a sad feeling afterwards, thinking, "What just happened to me?" I knew in my heart that I hadn't done anything to cause it, but still, this is the message that I kept hearing as people talked to me about diet and exercise and getting extra help with the kids and slowing down and resting. My husband has been great to remind me to listen to truth, to listen to the Lord.
I wanted to have a humble heart in case God was telling me, yes, in fact, I had done this to myself. I prayed about it, and one passage in Joshua 1 (see above) really struck me.
When the Lord ordains a season of rest for His people, it might look different than we think of rest. In my mind, I'm imagining sleeping all day and not lifting a finger. But looking at the context of this passage, He is talking about a season of no conquest. He has given land, and He has given rest, so His people do not need to conquer a new land. This does not mean his people would be sitting around sleeping all day; they would still have daily work to do, but they would not need to be plotting and scheming about the next big thing. The Lord may have other plans for them in the future, but for now, He has given land into their possession and given them rest. For now, they do not have a battle on the horizon.
This aspect of rest is good for me to hear. I need a restful heart. As my friend MK recently told me, "The opposite of rest is restless," and that is a struggle for me, to think about what the next big thing is. As my youngest started school two days a week, it's easy to imagine all this new free time opening up and wondering what I should do, what could I accomplish? But resting in His provisions, being still in His presence is a season to embrace. And truly it is a discipline to be at rest.
I do not feel I caused my illness, but I do think God has used it to His glory in many ways, especially in building community and a closer bond with family. I also think the well-intended messages to me have been used to His glory as God is showing me more about what rest actually means and that it's a good thing and not something to disdain.
And the truth is that when given a season of rest, we need to obey and rest because, when God is ready, He will call us to the next thing (as He did with the men given land and rest in the verse above; he called them out of rest for a period to "help their brothers until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them" --Joshua 1:15).
I would rather be rested when the battle arises; wouldn't you?