Are we there yet? Have you ever been on a trip and heard that phrase uttered? Maybe you expressed it yourself! Or how about this one: “pull over or else”? Hypothetically, the driver of the car may hear this request from frustrated travel companions if they neglected rest stops for the pursuit of completing the journey. I can tend to be that driver that wants to get to the destination as fast as I can, so rest stops just seem to be an obstacle to be avoided unless absolutely necessary!
Several years ago, we took a three week vacation out west and we rented an RV. It was awesome! I had mapped out a fairly aggressive plan so we could take in various sites. Looking back, there were times where I should have been better at including rest stops along the way..
I have to admit, I can end up being more stressed and tired when I try to drive non-stop than when I take breaks. Shhh… don’t tell my wife I said that! It can also be potentially dangerous without a break and a sleepy driver may swerve and get in an accident. That happened to me several years ago driving home from a business trip after pulling an “all-nighter” during a software implementation. I was awakened from my drowsiness by the rough terrain of the median of the highway. It was a miracle I didn’t hit something. I needed to take breaks on that trip and almost lost my life trying to reach the destination.
Just like a physical journey, our spiritual journey functions better with rest stops. We live in a 24-7 culture that seems addicted to constant activity and achievement. Without rest stops, we are prone to anxiety, burnout, and depression. Our spiritual lives can be impacted by this frantic life and we can miss the beauty of the journey we are on with Jesus. We are on a journey with Jesus in the Kingdom of God.
When I think back on that three week road trip, we took a variety of rest stops. Some were short, maybe for quick restroom break. Some were a little longer where we might stop and fill up the gas tank and grab some snacks for the road. Some stops were longer yet where we would stop and have a meal together and stretch our legs. And there were those stops that I really do like to take. When I see a sign that says “scenic turnout ahead”, I am tempted to take that stop every time.
In the same way, rest stops for the soul journey can come in various ways. Each type of stop can place us in the midst of Jesus who calls us to “come all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Sometimes we can talk ourselves out of rest stops because we don’t have any time in an already full schedule. However, if we consider this a little more carefully and realize the importance of taking a rest stop, we can see there are opportunities to stop without adding a lot more things to our plate. Below are some suggested rest stops that I have found helpful for me.
Ok. I think I got the attention of most of you out there who find your morning and perhaps afternoons supplemented by the habit of drinking coffee. Coffee doesn’t just magically appear in a cup in your hand. You have to go get it, whether you go to a local coffee store or your coffee maker at home or at work. Let the journey to your coffee supply be a rest stop.
In Prayers of the Heart, Richard Foster suggests this coffee time prayer:
Somehow, Jesus, I like praying with a cup of coffee in my had. I guess the warmth of the cup settles me and speaks to me of the warmth of your love. I hold the cup againt my cheek and listen, hushed and still. I blow on the coffee and drink. O Spirit of God, blow across my little life and let me drink in your great life.
Waiting in Lines
Waiting in lines is a regular occurrence in our lives. We wait in line at a grocery or department store, we wait in line for a cup of coffee! We wait in line to get a prescription refilled or ordering fast food. We can use these wait times as rest stops. Rather than checking our phones or just getting frustrated with the wait, we can bring our awareness to God in those moments.
Many struggle through a daily commute to work. Most of my work is from home so my commute time is pretty short, but when there have been times when I have driven to work, I again can focus on the destination and get extremely frustrated by the traffic. Or sometimes I just mindlessly listen to the radio to pass the time. But sometimes I turn off the radio, I let go of the pressure to get there, and use the time to pray, or meditate on scripture, or just thank God for the blessings He has given me.
Even the most workaholic amongst us takes a break from work from time to time. Each time you take a break, you can let that break usher in a moment of silence and worship with God. When you have finished your work for the day, stop for a moment, acknowledge God’s goodness and the gift of your work. Then pray a prayer to allow you to let go of stress of the day so that you don’t carry your work into your home life.
One of my favorite daily rest stops is walking my dog. This is a daily occurrence and some of my closest moments with God have occurred as I take a leisurely stroll with Chaucer. If you don’t have a dog, maybe talking a daily walk for exercise can prompt a much-needed rest stop with God
The above are just a few examples of how to incorporate rest stops into your day. Think about your typical day. Where might you find ways to incorporate rest stops with God into your day? What are some rest stops that might work for you? Please feel free to comment below what kinds of rest stops you enjoy.