The Importance of Rest for Body and Spirit

The Importance of Rest for Your Body and Your Spirit

On my morning walk, sunrise casts its glow across dewy hayfields. Breathing deeply, pushing hard on uphill stretches, and swinging my arms purposefully to keep my heart rate up, I am beginning to understand this ritual as both spiritual and physical discipline. Since exercise has been medically proven to slow the advance of Parkinson’s disease, I have a choice to make everyday:

I can operate from a negative stance, and, truthfully, some days it feels as if the disease is chasing me down the road, nipping at my heels. That’s unpleasant and quite unhelpful, so I’m trusting for grace to embrace the walking and the daily physical therapy exercises as a pursuit. I’m the one doing the chasing, and what I’m after is a strong body that will enable me to serve God and my family for as long as I can.

A Call to Rest. A Call to Worship

 The world outside is glorious in every season, and giving my mind to the expression of wonder over the works of God is somehow restful. Working from Psalm 92, this is no surprise:

You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
How great are your works, O Lord!

Psalm 92:4-5

Since Psalm 92 is a song for the Sabbath, it becomes a call to rest and a call to worship. God’s work and his ways certainly do make me glad, and they are also the best motive I can think of for engaging in true rest. I can rest because of God’s finished (and yet unceasing!) work on my behalf.

This connection between worship and rest requires me to look squarely at the connection between my spiritual life and my physical life. The condition of our bodies affects the condition of our souls–and have you noticed that the opposite is also true?

Since I no longer have the luxury of ignoring my own physical decline, I am trying to pay attention to all the influences that affect my ability to rest.

  • For instance, does continual accessibility on social media nurture my soul or does it leave me feeling tattered and scattered?
  • Will I profit most from another twenty minutes of reading at bedtime? Or is it more important to turn off the light and start winding down for rest?
  • What occupies my mind on that morning walk, or as I drive the car from Point A to Point B? Worry and meditation use the same mental muscles. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate on scripture. Which one do you think will be more productive and more restful for body and spirit?

What disciplines shape your daily routine?
Can you make good decisions today that will influence a more productive future?

“You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work…” This song for the Sabbath, becomes a call to rest and a call to worship. I engage in true rest because of God’s finished (and yet unceasing!) work on my behalf.

And Now Let’s Talk Books…

The Life We’re Looking For

Once again Andy Crouch offers startling commentary on the culture and our relationship to technology. Picking up where The Tech Wise Family left off, The Life We’re Looking For addresses the state of our hearts, for our obsession with our devices is truly an obsession with ourselves. Over time, humanity has traded our search for significance in the eyes of another person for the self-affirming mirror of customized entertainment and digital distraction.

Somehow, in a world obsessed with identity, we have lost touch with some of the most important ways of being human. Part One of the book laments this loss, and Part Two responds by offering strategies and a mindset for a more fully human life.

I have been personally challenged on some specific fronts:

  • To continue to see my dining room table as a place where genuine change can happen.
  • To be suspicious of the word “superpower” as a dehumanizing influence. Wherever the sensation of strength is separated form the sensation of effort, we have been diminished.
  • To be cautious about making choices that mask emptiness, all the while deepening it. Crouch puts a finger on our “small consolations and addictions,” the things that keep us just barely comforted, when God has designed us to flourish.
  • To beware of the allure of “impact.” What I really want to have with my readers is influence, a subtle and lasting change over time and through relationship and intentional, consequential contact over words and ideas.

Rather than replacing people with cyborgs, the goal of truly valuable technology is to re-place us, to “put us back in our place as… the crown of creation.” (1480) As an instrument in the the hand of a skilled practitioner, technology benefits us most when it enhances our human capabilities and lifts our burdens.

Holding You in the Light,

Somehow, in a world obsessed with identity we have lost touch with the most important ways of being human. #thelifewerelookingfor by @ahc laments the loss and responds by offering strategies for a more fully human life @ConvergentBooks

If Andy Crouch’s work sounds interesting to you, you might also appreciate Strong and Weak. It’s being re-released this year from IV Press, but I reviewed the first edition here back in 2016. It’s a book I keep returning to for many reasons.

With elements of memoir and story, Strong and Weak is deeply informative for leaders, or for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world, and this in itself would be “enough”; however, Andy Crouch shares intensely practical advice that brings principles for flourishing into everyday life, as well as some of the best and most memorable advice for public speaking that I’ve read anywhere:  do your homework, love your audience, be yourself.

Do You Wonder If God Is Okay with Your Questions?

Curiosity has been my strange companion since my recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, so I’ve created a resource to invite you into curiosity along with me! God is not some grumpy parent, silencing his children and condemning our questions. 

This line of thinking sent me on a biblical scavenger hunt for questions posed by the Bible’s authors. What were they asking and how should this affect the questions I’m asking and the way my curiosity is framed?

To receive your copy of “Half a Dozen Biblical Questions for Entering (and Enduring) Hard Times” simply enter your email and then click on the button below…

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Many thanks to Convergent Books and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

58 thoughts on “The Importance of Rest for Your Body and Your Spirit”

  1. I touched on the connection between body and spirit in my post today, too, in the way God fed Elijah and let him sleep before even trying to talk to him about what was going on in his heart.

    Isn’t it strange that with all the time- and labor-saving devices we have these days, we feel more crunched for time than ever? Why is rest so elusive a thing since we all want it? Maybe because the enemy knows that connection between the physical and spiritual and therefore keeps throwing distractions our way. I have been convicted about watching out for my bedtime lately. It’s so nice, when the house is quiet and no one needs me, to read a little late at night. But I am finding that late nights leave me draggy all day. I need to discipline myself to go to bed earlier.

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    1. Rest is definitely a discipline, and I’m with you in that delightful sensation of “just me and my book” for a little while, but we DO need our rest, so we have to close the book and close our eyes out of obedience!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It appears God has a theme going Michele as I too have written about this over the past few weeks with FM & mental health.

    We truly need to listen to Him for our body, mind & spirit as all are intricately interwoven.

    So glad you are looking after yourself my friend, it’s so very important in chronic conditions. Although it takes time to get the balance just right 😉
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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  3. I love the connection you’ve drawn between rest and worship. And the reminder that meditation and worry use the same mental muscles – I would much rather train those muscles in thoughts of God and His Word! Praying for you in your health journey!

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      1. We’re you peeking in my windows or perhaps taking a walk down the rabbit holes in my mind? Yep, this hit home for me! I get so wound up in my to-do list that I can forget what’s really important 💔

        Stopped by from the June One-Word Linkup. I’m so glad that I read this again 😊

        Thank you

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  4. You are very wise being proactive in order to manage your illness. God gives us such wonderful wisdom. There is then no safer place than resting in him.

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  5. Kudos to you, Michele, for getting in that walk each morning! I’d say two disciplines, first thing in the morning, give the most shape to my day: quiet time and exercise. During the latter I listen to podcasts of sermons, available online. For years I listened to Christian music, but my mind wandered more easily. I find the sermons more compelling so exercise time seems to pass more quickly!

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  6. The sermon I heard yesterday (Pentecost) dealt with how we need to relinquish control tin order to accept the Holy Spirit coming into our hearts. I think this ties in with rest. For me, it’s hard to slow down, stop, and simply BE. I agree with you that a call to rest can be a call to worship.
    Carol
    http://www.scribblingboomer.com

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  7. I cosign your thoughts on rest. It is so important. Over the weekend while hanging with a friend, we discussed rest, and afterward, I went into her guest room to take a nap and rest my body. Healing and restoration come to our bodies when we rest. And yes, I have noticed that the condition of my body affects the condition of my soul and that is why exercise and overall wellness are super important to me. Walking is one of my favorite ways to move my body. It is also one of the best ways to connect with my Heavenly Father.

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  8. I just love you and your ability to write words that speak to me. Example: If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate on Scripture. Amen.

    I’m also trying to set boundaries when it comes to social media. IRL presence has always been preference.

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  9. Michele, I love your words. We have to be intentional in our choices. when the pandemic hit, I began getting serious about exercise and daily walks became a part of becoming intentional. As we age, physical movement seems to become increasingly important. Thanks for the reminders to be intentional about rest as well. I’ve found myself becoming increasingly distracted over the past number of months. Not sure what caused this, but I’m working to get a better handle on it. Asking those questions you shared are key!

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  10. I love the description of your walk and the way you think of it as both a physical and spiritual discipline. I, too, am realizing the importance of exercise for helping my aging body. I’ve been dealing with sciatica the past few weeks and I’m doing the kind of exercise that helps. But also important is rest and finding the balance. I love the scriptures you shared! They make me want to shout and praise God. And this: “I can rest because of God’s finished (and yet unceasing!) work on my behalf.” AMEN Blessings to you, Michele! xo

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  11. I was really struck by this statement: “If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate on scripture.” I’m always thinking about something. Often this is things that concern me. Making the intentional effort to dwell on scripture instead is a very practical thing I can do to find rest and worry less.

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  12. I’m the one doing the chasing, and what I’m after is a strong body that will enable me to serve God and my family for as long as I can. … that right there gave me chills! What an amazing mindset!

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  13. OH yes! That mind/body/ spirit connection is so important. I am trying really hard to worry less, exercise more, and rest when my body tells me to.

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  14. Daily exercise to move and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation are super important to me, too. I need to work more on turning out the light a little earlier to get a good night’s rest! I pray your morning walks help you physically and spiritually, Michele!

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  15. The relationship between physical and spiritual wellbeing is so important and symbiotic. I find peace in the quiet times when I can appreciate the wonderful world around us and give thanks for my family and other blessings. Thanks for linking up with #DreamTeam

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  16. The connection between the condition of our bodies and the condition of our souls….how powerful. It is something that I have been meditating on lately – and what a clear and powerful reminder (and personal explanation) of exactly how needful it is to know and appreciate. Oh my, but a change in my attitude towards exercise is so necessary! Hope you are feeling strong this week!

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  17. I appreciate these thoughts on rest. Sometimes it is very challenging to settle in and really rest up mentally and physically. Yet we need it so much!

    Featuring your post at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop today.

    God bless!
    Laurie

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  18. I haven’t always exercised as much as I should but I’m trying to do better for the same reasons … so I can serve God and my family as long as possible. And I wonder why the opposite end of the scale is just as challenging … rest. Another discipline in which I need to grow!

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  19. Glad to discover you and your blog through the Thankful Thursday link up. My dear friend’s husband has Parkinsons and has good results with keeping it in check with regular exercise. It is progressing, but much slower than they originally predicted. He is playing pickleball and loving it. Good for you to get the exercise that will enrich your quality of life and health.

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  20. A call to rest AND a call to worship. I love this, Michele. I feel the same about my word: a call to release AND a call to worship. Yes! God continues to guide us to where we need him the most with our words…

    Like

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