Rest is a Weapon
Written by Jonathan David Helser
Photography by Jonathan David Helser and Sydnee Mela
"Rest is a weapon." This is something we say over and over during the 18 Inch Journey. Learning how to rest well is a huge part of our school. In the midst of a full schedule, we teach our students the value of slowing down and starting each week from a posture of rest. One way we walk this out is by setting aside every Sunday for Sabbath: to rest and delight in the Lord. We do this because we believe that rest is an essential component to living a whole life and is what God modeled for us from the beginning.
This week, we wanted to share our value for rest with you, just like we do for our students. "Rest" is a piece written by Jonathan Helser for Cultivate Volume IV. In this piece, Jonathan explores why rest is a Kingdom principle and shares from his own journey of learning to slow down and make space for the Father. As you read it, may you be inspired to open up a conversation with the Father about His heart for your rest.
In our home we like to call the Sabbath "Family Day." One of my favorite things to do on a Family Day is to wake up early and surprise them with a huge home-cooked breakfast. I love the quiet moments when everyone else in the house is sleeping. There is something so holy about those early morning hours, and it fills my heart with deep joy to serve the ones I love the most. As the aroma of coffee, pancakes and bacon fill the air, it’s amazing how these smells seem to awaken everyone in the house. I love watching my kids come down the stairs on those mornings. Instead of seeing their dad rushing out the door to work, they see me in an apron, behind the stove, serving them. When they see me flipping pancakes, they know that my agenda for the day is to simply be with them.
Recently I started thinking about the first morning that Adam awoke in Eden. What if Adam smelled the same aroma of home-cooked breakfast when he awoke: French press coffee, pumpkin pancakes and maple syrup filling the garden. Sounds likes paradise, yeah? I think he awoke to breakfast in bed, his Father’s smile and these words: "Adam, my Son, I have taken the whole day off work today. I have cleared my whole schedule for you. This whole day you have my full attention." I know the pancakes and coffee are not in Scripture, but the Bible does reveal to us that Adam’s first full day in the Garden was the seventh day of Creation.
God took that whole day off work to have a Family Day.
At this point in Adam’s life, he had accomplished nothing, yet he was already enjoying a rest day. Before he could work the garden or subdue the earth, he was given the gift of rest with his Father. Life begins by receiving. God’s design is to work from rest, not for rest. It is easy to slip into the rat race in our performance-driven culture and work for rest, instead of from it. But God flips this idea upside down. This is the nature of God: God loves us for who we are, not what we do.
You can clearly see this same pattern in the life of Jesus. When He is baptized at the Jordan, He has done nothing in ministry yet—no sermons preached, no blind eyes opened, no miracles performed. Yet the Father declares this over His Son when He comes out of the baptism water: "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17, NIV). The Father’s pleasure was in His Son’s being, not in His doing. Everything that Jesus did in the next three years of His ministry came from the overflow of this relationship with His Father. Jesus did only what He saw the Father doing and only spoke what He heard the Father saying (John 5:19 and John 12:49). Ministry is meant to be an overflow of relationship with the Father. This is the easy yoke that is offered to us. We don’t work for His pleasure, we work from His pleasure.
I have discovered that my greatest inspiration for creativity comes when I slow down and allow God’s creation to inspire me, to speak to me and to restore my soul. When I stop and let His creation serve me, creativity always begins to flow afresh in my heart. When is the last time you have stopped and allowed His creation to inspire you, to serve you and to fill your heart with wonder again?
Prompt: Carve out some time to stop long enough for His beauty to wash the busyness off your weary feet. Find a place where you can slow down and immerse yourself in Creation. It may be a mountain top, a beach, a walk through the forest or even a quiet place in a park.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, "Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” After you have found a place to be still in creation, take off your shoes, like Moses before the burning bush. There is something wonderful about bare feet on the earth. Whether your feet are in sand, in a stream or on a mountaintop, let your heart be soft and vulnerable before God’s presence like your feet on the earth.