Monday, March 30, 2015

Blessed Rest

image used under Public Domain license, photo obtained from pixabay
This past Saturday and this coming Saturday, we're resharing a couple of posts that speak to our spiritual leadership.  There may be more, if I think they fit and have permission to use them, here.  

As a Christian blogger, I've been interested in leadership topics for some time. Particularly since I subscribe to an idea John Maxwell expressed.  He stated that leadership is influencing someone and we all do that with at least one person.  I add to it the reality that, sometimes, that one person may be ourselves.

Recently, I saw several articles about what successful and productive people do, much of it before going to bed.  It struck me that a lot of it relates to our spiritual walk.  Whether we realize it or not, how we end our day is as important as how we start it.  Let's see where God takes us with this.

Before we get started, there are a few things we need to keep in mind.  One is that I'm putting these in a sequence that makes sense to me.  Your priorities may be different because we're not all the same.  Another thing is that not all of these are things that come up at bedtime.  Also, while these started as lists of things successful and productive people do, they're human.  Which means these are habits, but not necessarily things that get 100% adherence.  And, finally, I may toss in a suggestion or two of my own.

1. We'll start with one that may not seem to be related to the rest of the list, but may be one of the most important.  They eat right.  God gave us sleep and nutrition as normal ways to protect, grow and heal the body.  And it seems like neglecting one is an indication we neglect the other, even if unconsciously.  There are any number of things where we can't possibly be at our prime if we neglect either.

2. One of the lists says that "they get things done".  We're not talking about a doer or "go getter" here.  What we see is someone who finishes what they started.  Whatever is important enough to be prioritized for that day will be completed.  Think of Joshua 11:15, which says "As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.".  If they're finished, they're not keeping the mind active, and not hindering needed rest.

3. All the important decisions have been made.  That doesn't mean that all decisions have been made.  Sometimes the most important decision is to delay some important decision(s) till there are enough facts to make an informed decision.  In the meantime, those things are put out of our minds, not disturbing everything else.  We can speak or think as Job.

Job 27:6 (KJV)  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

4. Review the day.  Think about it.  God is omni-everything, we're not.  Which means that, while everything God does is perfect and right, the same can't be said for us.  We're not talking about giving ourselves a guilt trip.  But we can learn from everything in our past, including our mistakes. In Christianity, we think of it as an examination of conscience.  No matter how we think of it, a review gives us a chance to be different in the future, correct what needs to be corrected, and remove the day's events from interfering with God given rest.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV)  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 

5. Set tomorrow's priorities.  In other words, plan.  Part of letting go of the mistakes and undone things from today and yesterday is giving them their proper spot in your future.  That gets them out of the way without totally ignoring them.  But they can be set aside until the appropriate time.

6. Have quality family time.  No matter what else we may or may not do successfully, everything else is supposed to support that family life, not replace it.  The only exception is our relationship with God.  Family life and our relationship with God mutually effect each other.  And it's a major area of having our priorities right.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

7. Whether it's time out in nature or a walk around the block, "getting away from it all", even for moments, is important  Whether we're solving a work or spiritual problem, the mental and spiritual circuits can overload and it seems like we're not getting anywhere.  Taking a walk not only allows us to shift gears, it changes the environment long enough to prevent it from triggering a cycle of frustration.

8. Write things down.  Whether we're out on date night, shopping, or playing tennis, ideas and spiritual insights come at the strangest times.  Maybe it relates to that environment change we just talked about -- it's not getting in the way of God speaking to us.  Both Moses and Jesus had to go to the mountain top to hear from God.  For us, it doesn't matter if it's hectic, but the wrong time, or the quiet of bedtime, but the wrong time for the idea.  Even a keen memory forgets at least part of that.  Writing things down prevents too many "it couldn't have been important" moments.  And having what we forgot robbing us of potential blessings.

9.  Read.  That's a double blessing.  Successful people absorb new ideas and wisdom from others. That works for our spiritual life, too.  Except we have to prioritize getting into The Book above all other sources.  We need to banquet on the Word of God.

Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV)  Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

10. Meditate.  This one comes in multi-part form.

  • Besides reviewing the day, we need to think about the influences that have been on us and what we've read.  That bedtime quiet time is perfect for allowing our thoughts and our connection with God to usher in peace in our soul.  Psalm 63:5-6 (KJV)  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
  • Allow your creativity to flow.  I'm not talking about going bonkers and getting excited enough to prevent sleep.  But that quiet time before bed is often when creative times come, when we may see fresh new relationships between Bible verses, when the chaos around us no longer blocks free thought.  This is one of those places we may want to go back to #8, too, to record these new insights.
  • Get a vision for the future.  Think success.  Having positive thoughts creates a mental attitude that relaxes us for proper rest.  Which has us waking to the next day refreshed. Which has us starting the next day with the right attitudes to be successful.  And that's true for work, family life, and our spiritual life.  Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
11. This may not sound spiritual, but it is.  Device detox.  Most of us have multiple devices -- phones, tablets, eReaders, TVs, etc.  There have been studies showing that their use close to bedtime slows getting to sleep.  And, once we're in bed, we're so acclimated to paying attention to notification beeps and dings, those interfere, too.  Among others, Arriana Huffington has completely banished electronics from her bedroom.  And she says she sleeps better for it.

12. Finally, have a set bedtime.  We're not talking about an unswerving legalistic ritual.  Think of it as proper preparation.  If our body and mind are used to a general window of time for getting to bed, they will start preparing for sleep as we near that time period.  We get better sleep.  Yes, there are exceptions.  I said this isn't legalism.  And I may be better at creating exceptions than sticking to a schedule.  But when I do have a schedule, I see positive results.  I go to sleep quicker and I wake up more refreshed.

Like me, you may have spent years ingesting statements like "Sleep is overrated." or "I can sleep after I die.".  But both are lies.  Sure we need to get things done and we want to experience as much as possible.  But, as I said in #1, nutrition and rest are God given gifts to grow and heal us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

With most of these points, we've been talking about sleep.  Consider that one of the military methods of interrogating an enemy is sleep deprivation.  We don't think as well or as fast when we don't have enough sleep.  Our emotions aren't held in check.  We can't as readily live in Jesus' words in Matthew 10:16, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

While we're mostly talking about sleep and rest, and the things that will improve those, everything we've mentioned touches on one overall essential.  Developing good habits!  The better we treat ourselves (and good habits do that), the better our spiritual life becomes.  No, spoiling ourselves with overindulgence doesn't really treat ourselves well, get us physical or spiritual rest, nor does it generate a great spiritual life.  But having good habits can improve our closeness to God, how we relate to others, and how we see ourselves.

So.  Are you ready to have the best physical, emotional and spiritual life possible by growing into great habits and resting in God?


2 comments:

  1. Great thoughts hear Bill, I like how you approached this with body, soul and spirit in mind. Complete picture! Well done.

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    Replies
    1. We need to be at our peak if we're going to contend with The Enemy. And proper rest is one of the necessities.

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