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  • Writer's pictureJen Stone-Sexton

Stepping Off the Treadmill

Updated: Feb 15

Have you ever wondered what God wants you to do? So often we complicate our lives with busyness only to find ourselves empty and exhausted. Read the blog to discover how God wants to lead you in the Unforced Rhythms of Grace so that you can recover your life.


“Here is what I want you to do. Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there. As simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will begin to sense His grace.”
Matthew 6:6 (Message)

The sage green live oaks, branches covered in draping moss like flowing skirts, danced in the gentle March breeze. Colorful flowers bloomed everywhere and I could see an Osprey nest from the balcony of my room overlooking a river. I had come to Epworth by the Sea for a Rest Quest retreat and I was fascinated by the enchanting beauty of the Golden Isles of South Georgia.


Rest has not come easy for me. As a driven, ambitious, “Type A” personality, I am more familiar with an over packed schedule, impending deadlines, striving, hustling, and achieving. Most of my life, I have been more comfortable with doing than with being. Doing kept me distracted from the quiet inner voice and deeper emotions I’d rather not feel too intensely. Rest? Who had time for rest? I had things to do. Important things to do. (Never mind that I can’t recall most of them now.)


I was often emotionally reactive, stressed out, in a hurry, and focused on the next thing rather than being calm, intentional and present. More often than not, I pushed myself beyond my limits. As a result, sickness or some chronic health issue, was my body’s way (and perhaps God’s grace) of getting my attention. Forcing me to slow down long enough to recover. Over the years, as I began paying more attention to what my body was trying to communicate, I began to listen. I began to notice my limits and respect them. I learned “No.” was a complete sentence and I began to say it more often. I changed my schedule to better reflect my priorities.


This was a process that took time. It did not happen overnight because underneath all of that doing, striving, achieving and performing was a fear that if I didn’t, I would not be loved. I would not be enough. I equated work with worth. Yet Jesus invites us to a different way.


Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - what how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything ill-fitting or heavy on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. - Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)

Throughout Scripture, beginning in Genesis 2:3 and included in the Ten Commandments, rest is a command, not a suggestion. We are told to set aside one full day a week to rest, to be restored, refreshed and renewed. We are work from a place of rest. A place of trust. Not rest only when we are exhausted from all our work and all our striving and all our activities.


When you choose to be obedient to God’s commands and leave the outcome to God, you open the door of opportunity to see God’s power, purpose, promises and love displayed in your life.


{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}


During my time in Georgia at the Rest Quest retreat, and throughout the entire trip, there were blessings He poured out in loving ways, delightful in the details and achingly sweet in His presence. While the retreat itself was life-changing, the ripple effect of obedience has continued to play out in my life in ways only God could have orchestrated. It has been a significant lesson for me.


Rest is a sacred rhythm God has woven into the fabric of life and all of creation. Rest means more than sleep. Rest is not about taking a vacation. Rest does not imply cessation of all activity. “What if rest is in itself a vital activity required to tend the garden of our lives? What if rest is the water that replenishes the dryness? What if rest is fertilizer awaking us to growth and greatness? What if rest is the hands of the gardener pulling up the weeds threatening the edge out beauty?


All rest is not created equal. Much of what we consider rest fails to work because it is not restful. The most effective rest occurs when we are purposefully reviving the parts of our life we regularly deplete. Any so-called rest that doesn’t meet this goal isn’t rest; it’s just more work adding to the busyness.” – Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith, Sacred Rest 1


God desires for you to receive His love in a way that brings healing to your heart and nourishes your soul. When was the last time you allowed yourself to just bask in the love of God and receive His unconditional love into the very depths of your heart? Being in the presence of God, being still enough to receive His love, changes us.


Just as God’s love is a gift to be received, so “Rest is a gift to be received, not a reward to be earned.”2



Resting in God requires trusting God. Resting in God means that we humbly admit that we do not run the world and that everything does not depend on us. Resting is not about sitting in stoic silence doing nothing all day nor is it about a list of rules that we think have to be followed. Legalism never frees us and God’s rest is meant to free us. In The Power of Quiet, Discovering the Strength of a Peaceful Soul, Aimee Walker writes,


“Resting in God is a conscious choice to redirect our thoughts. To allow His love and truth to overpower our fears, disappointments, impossibilities and brokenness. When we choose rest, we are allowing Him to be bigger than what we face. And far from weak, lazy, or passive, rest is a better strategy. A powerful weapon that releases God to be God and enables us to experience first-hand the acts of salvation.”


“We often associate great faith with the ability to do great things – with taking risks and ‘stepping out’ – but great faith also exists in places of quiet, in the ability to be still and wait. Sometimes the true extent of our faith and trust in God is evidenced by our capacity to cease our activity and be silent long enough to hear what God is saying; to be still long enough to let Him show us His goodness and His power.” 3

Be still and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10

How can we hear God's voice if we are not quiet enough to listen? And how can we get quiet enough if we don’t create intentional time to rest?


What if, being still and knowing God involves ceasing our endless striving? What if being still is about allowing ourselves to be seen instead of hiding? What if being still requires us to slow down long enough to examine how barren our busyness has left us? And how dizzy all of our distractions have made us, like the whirring of a merry-go-round?


Your Soul and your Schedule don't follow the same rules.

Where you can create margin in your life? Margin is hard for me, so I understand the struggle. I'm more accustomed to cramming as much in a segment of time as possible. Yet, I have found living this way robs me of peace, serenity, being present to the moment and of joy. God values margin. He values rest. And He wants to lead you in the Unforced Rhythms of Grace so that you can recover your life. (Matthew 11:28-30 - Message)


Questions for Reflection:

Does your life currently reflect the value that God places on rest? If not, what boundaries might you need to put in place? In what ways might you weave moments of restoring your soul with God into the rhythms of your life?


Prayer: Lord, please help me to value rest the way that you do. Guide me as I examine what I prioritize and why. Give me the courage to let go of busyness and distraction. I want to live my best and give the best of myself to You and others, not the leftovers. I invite you to take my hand in Yours and help me to understand what living in the Unforced Rhythms of Grace looks like. Thank you, Lord.

 

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Editor's Note:

This devotional blog is by Jen Stone-Sexton, Christian Life Coach, Author, Speaker, Teacher and Founder. Jen has openings for a select number of new clients. Learn more about Jen and what Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching has to offer you.


Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2024 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All graphics created by Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2024 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All Rights Reserved.

 

Credits: 1 Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith, Sacred Rest (New York: FaithWorks; Hachette Book Group, 2017) 2 Holley Gerth 3 Aimee Walker, The Power of Quiet, Discovering the Strength of a Peaceful Soul, © Joyful Life Study

Unless otherwise notes, all Scripture references are from The Message (MSG) Holy Bible, Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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