Unplowed Ground: Rest


I sensed it pretty clearly from the Lord one night while our small group was praying. I knew it was a command, not a suggestion. I knew it was an invitation, but a forceful one. I knew it would benefit me, but I also knew I was going to have to work for it.

Ironically, we are a weary people who consistently struggle to rest.

Here are a few things I’m learning about rest:

  • It takes effort.

  • We rest because God says to, not because we are “finished” with all our tasks.

  • It often feels purposeless. (It is not.)

  • Others may not see its value or understand the significance.

  • Rest looks different in each of our lives.

  • Rest assumes that work is being done. We don’t rest for our entire existence—we rest regularly so that we are able to remain active and engaged in our lives!

The night that I heard the command, “Rest,” I went to sleep hopeful. It had been a very stressful week, and I was exhausted. I woke up two hours later to the sound of the neighbor’s tree slamming into the side of my house.

Let me say this: it was not conducive to rest!

Let me also say this: it did not change God’s command: “Rest.”

Rest, even when the gutter needs to be repaired.

Rest, even when everything is unresolved.

Rest, even when you cannot fix the conflicts around you.

Rest, because there is One on whom you can rely.

The Lord has been highlighting to me the difference between resting “from” and resting “in.” It Is not always possible to rest “from” our lives. If your season involves a newborn, for example, you cannot just check out for the day (or the night). If your season involves grief of any sort, you cannot escape it. If your season involves conflict (and it likely does!), you cannot always resolve it before you can rest.

Instead, we must learn to rest “in” those circumstances. This means that rest may not look like relaxation. It may not look like the absence of strife. It will likely not involve the removal of all trouble. Instead, it will require us to learn to look to the Giver of Rest to find our rest even in the middle of whatever our lives hold.

As we break up your unplowed ground, we must also learn to rest in the presence of the One who has called us to this work.

Practical Plowing

Because I’ve been struggling to rest, I’ve been working on practical ways to identify what holds us back from resting and then to bring those things to Jesus.

Get alone and quiet with the Lord. Maybe turn on quiet worship music if that helps you tune out the world and turn your attention to Jesus. Take out a piece of paper, and write down your answer to the following quetsions:

  1. What circumstance is causing you not to rest?

  2. What outcome or solution to that circumstance do you believe would allow you to rest? The outcome that we think would have to happen “in order for us to rest” can reveal places where we are placing our security in something outside of the Lord Himself. What do you think would have to change in order for you to rest? [Spoiler alert: the Lord may not do whatever it is you think “must” happen, especially in the timeline that you’ve likely prescribed. But it’s helpful for us to acknowledge these areas where we are trusting in an outcome rather than in the Lord.]

  3. As you consider your answers to #1 and #2 above, ask the Lord for a practical invitation about how to trust Him in your specific circumstances and to find your rest even “in” whatever it is you are currently facing. Practice listening for Him and trust Him to speak to you about how He’s inviting you to respond to Him.

Lord, teach us to rest in You, regardless of our circumstances. Teach us to find our rest in your presence rather than in a specific outcome. Teach us to find you faithful to lead us to times of rest, even in seasons where natural rest feels fleeting.

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