Wayne Muller headlines a chapter in his book “Sabbath” with the title “Fear of Rest” and opens it with this humorous but poignant tale.
Rabbi Levi saw a man running in the street, and asked him, “Why do you run?” He replied, “I am running after my good fortune!” Rabbi Levi tells him, silly man, your good fortune has been trying to chase you, but you are running too fast.
We all seem to be in a hurry to get someplace and achieve some sense of purpose in life and discover our good fortune. Like the man running in the street, we run full speed ahead on a mysterious quest that we hope will satisfy and fulfill us. We don’t exactly know what we are looking for, but we like the prodigal son afraid if he stayed home, would miss out on life we feel much the same way. We run here and there doing something to justify our existence. In our fast-paced life, we never are content to sit and relax but are on a never-ending pursuit. We avoid rest because in our minds rest is without purpose.
We live knowing full well we are running out of time, so there is no time available in our minds to rest or sit. We are afraid we will waste our time doing nothing and miss out on life. However, the wisdom of the Rabbi would teach us that reaching and grabbing for the things of the world is empty and fleeting. The constant activities provide a false escape from thinking about the impermanence of our existence in an impermanent world. We believe the falsehood that ceaseless effort is required to produce lasting security, comfort, and peace in our life.
The fear of rest pushes us to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion along with draining us of spiritual life. We run faster fearing and avoiding what we may discover if we sit down and do nothing in the silence. However, the silence is the pearl of priceless worth Jesus describes that a man or woman will sell everything they own to obtain it. When we become still and quiet within ourselves, we uncover the treasure of His presence and the essence and reason for our life.
Rest, silence and being alone in solitude help us slow down enough to listen to our heart and spirit. It is in the rest we let go of our activity to perform and the need to impress and let go of the false security of our work and effort to be secure and safe. In the silence, we recognize the impermanence of this world gives way to the permanence and hope of the living God being alive within us.
We find our rest is not only of an earthly nature but learning to rest in the heart of God through the eternal spirit of the resurrected Christ. In the silence and quiet, we awaken to the awareness that worldly activity left us alone and separated from the hope of being connected to the eternal spirit of Christ. In the silence, we link to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and are joined in the Eternal now of all creation. Don’t let the fear of rest keep you from enjoying and being aware of the life of God in you.
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