This story appears in FCA Magazine’s January/February 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
Frantic doesn’t fit nice around your heart.
It longs to prod and jam its way into you, to disrupt the flow of freedom and rob you of rest. It laughs and jests that if you’re not running around from one activity to the next, not clogging your calendar to the brim, then you’re out of step with a society that’s already on the fritz.
But God doesn’t rush things—not our transformational process, not His global plan, not answering prayers. Not even creation. He shaped space and time, formed clay and water, and breathed man into existence. Then, “on the seventh day ... He rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2)
Since calm was God’s idea, why are we so swept up in chaos?
Travel teams filling up every weekend. Year-round training and recruiting. Schoolwork, pressure from parents, stiff competition at younger and younger levels. Coaching demands that burn into all hours of the night. Meetings, temptations of the world, replacing what’s best with what’s right now.
The world says rush; God says rest. And Jesus promises that if we get away with Him, we’ll recover our life.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” – Psalm 46:10
We often pride ourselves on our busyness, but this façade only distracts from our dissatisfaction.
“Working oneself to exhaustion is not a virtue, but probably a sign of insecurity,” said FCA Ghana leader Vincent Asamoah, who sets intentions for himself that are attainable and balanced, resulting in a fullness that counteracts the craziness of ministry around him. “Whenever I’ve gone by smart goals, I have achieved so much and feel less exhausted.”
Jesus came to a weary, worn-out world for our replenishment. He came to diffuse so much “doing” and bend culture backwards with “just be.” The least we can do is cut out the striving and simply sit still. We may be surprised by how good it feels.
A Solitary Place
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” – Mark 1:35 (NIV)
Jesus was in step with the Father’s heart, always open to a fluctuating daily agenda, attune to where to go and with whom to speak. He knew His main path and would not tarry on the ultimate road to the cross, but He never found Himself running on empty to perform healings, diffuse arguments or teach His disciples along the way.
Rest can erode when we become swept up in the jam-packed schedules of coaches and athletes. As children of the King, we are promised to rest in green meadows and be led beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23:2)
Instead of fighting the current, find that still spot where God can meet you.
“The pace and attractions of the world can be enticing and mesmerizing,” said Ted Manning, Southwest Michigan Area FCA Representative. “But God gently calls us to a quiet place, where He can be found, and the noise can be silenced, and everything slows down and comes into sharper focus.”
Give You Rest
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Everyone needs to get away from the noise. Having quiet time refocuses, recharges and re-energizes us to be our best selves. We can perform at our peak, operating out of the overflow, saturated in the strength of Christ.
Start by rearranging time in your schedule to meet with God. Slow yourself. Unplug. Set your phone aside. Be still. Center on Christ.
Coaches, pick one day of the week to designate as family time. Have this as a day of reprieve where everyone knows you’re unavailable, and you can allocate time and attention to what fills you up.
Athletes, if your schedule doesn’t allow for a day off, make sure you have time to yourself, even for only 30 minutes before bed. And make time with people who will pour into you, like friends, mentors or an FCA Huddle. Even if just for a few minutes, find Scripture that speaks to you and read it over and again, soaking in the words and letting the Holy Spirit maneuver your heart closer to God’s.
Seek God in His Word and in prayer.
“Without those two fundamentals,” Manning said, “it’s like trying to teach football without blocking and tackling. I can find a way to do it, but we wouldn’t be very successful. If you put those together at the same time in quiet time, it’s really beneficial because they complement each other so well. God wants what’s on your heart as much as He wants to expose Himself to you.”
Lastly, keep accountable with others. Athletes and coaches stick to a strict regimen that can keep them packed from predawn to past dusk, but coaches and campus Huddles can provide a refuge from the overdrive. They can also serve as a reminder to remain on Christ’s foundation.
Remember the Sabbath
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” – Exodus 20:8
God places emphasis on the Sabbath, a day set apart from all others that allows us to pause and reflect and rejuvenate ourselves in communion with Him. If the Creator Himself marked off a whole day to refrain from work, how can we not do the same?
Lydia Martinelli, West Virginia University FCA staff member, knows that, with upcoming ministry demands, she has no choice but to be busy this season. To prepare, she’s been focusing on both an internal and external Sabbath rest, being intentional to use it to delight in God and what He’s done in her week.
“As ministry people, we’re so focused on pouring out all the time,” she said. “I never bothered to take the time to recognize how good God has been to me. He’s still my God and does things for me specifically, and when you don’t take the time to realize this, you become restless. For me, it’s not so much circumstantial rest, but a soul rest.”
Sabbath soul rest allows the Lord’s touch to sink into our parched places, where we’re in weary need of replenishment. Let God ease you away from distraction and into rest with Him.
“He is refreshment,” Martinelli said.
• • •
The root question of all this is, where are we putting our trust? In ourselves, to get everything done that we need to? Do we have any trust in others to help us complete our tasks and—if we’re honest—hold us up when we burn out?
When we trust that God has our best interest in mind, that He really is sovereign, we can rest in His promises. We can rest in the security and counsel of He who has numbered our days and counted our breaths.
In a way, our entire lives are spent in a sense of wait. All creation groans in expectation for the coming of Christ to set everything right. In that waiting can come the wonder of discovering how close God really comes.
We don’t have to look too far—just to Calvary. His shoulders, holding the entirety of humanity’s sin, carried a splintered cross to the top of a hill. He holds our past, present and future in the palm of His hands and asks us to simply believe, to simply release our striving to “keep up” and enter into a lasting peace.
Come to Me, Jesus implores, all who are weary. Allow your hearts to rest.