Rested, Refreshed, and Ready to Serve | August 6th, 2018
Running through the sprinklers, swimming with friends at the community pool, church camp, Mom’s homemade popsicles, shucking corn and snapping beans from the garden with Dad, juicy watermelon, slip and slides, and at least one good, long road trip.
Ahhh…the sweet memories of childhood summers!
When I was a kid, I lived for summer. With no homework to be done and not a single care in the world, it was VACATION from the moment the last school bell rang until starting back up again in September.
For kids, summer is a season filled with hours and hours of freedom to play hard and just relax. They do not weigh the pros and cons of how they are spending their time or think about whether or not they should be more productive. They just enjoy life!
Something shifts, though, when we reach adulthood. For many of us, it feels foolish to “waste” time by goofing off or relaxing too much. As adults, we have created a frenzied lifestyle where every minute counts. We are impatient if we have to wait for anything. Time is money.
In our efforts to accumulate bigger, better, and nicer things, we spend all of our time working away at our job six, and sometimes even seven, days a week. There is very little rest for our minds and bodies as we push ourselves to work harder and harder. We strive to be continuously productive, making good use of every moment. Paid time off goes unused and vacations become few and far between.
When vacations are taken, many of us would never dream of leaving home without our laptops, cell phones, and other technical gadgets that keep us “plugged in” to work, social media, the news, and other things that cause us lots of stress. Sadly, summer is just another season.
Take Time to Rest
Our all-knowing God knew that by the 21st century we would end up frizzled and frazzled with our minds and bodies constantly on the go. In His wisdom, He set the example for taking time to rest:
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3
Without a proper balance between work and rest, there are serious consequences.
Decades of research supporting the 40-hour work week show that working longer can increase your risk of chronic stress, major depression, and heart disease. You become more prone to skipping your workouts, eating foods that are not as healthy for you, skimping on sleep, and spending less time with the people who matter most to you.
Serve God by Serving Others
When you have a good balance of work and rest, you are better able to do what you were ultimately designed to do…to serve God by serving others. It takes energy to serve, so it is essential to set aside one day each week to rest your mind and body from working. Think of it as pausing your shallow work one day a week for God’s deep work.
God has gifted you with unique talents and special skills. Rather than working every waking moment to accumulate more and more for yourself, God wants you to take time to rest and be refreshed so you can use your gifts energetically to show His love and grace to others through serving. It is a way of expressing gratitude for all He has done for you.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
When you have a relationship with God, you will want to serve Him as a natural, love-filled response. The more you know Him by spending time with Him in His Word and realize how much He loves you, the more you will want to please Him.
As followers of Christ, we are to strive to be more like Him. Jesus was a true servant throughout His life on earth and even in His death for us.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Serving Benefits the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who give of their time to feel more socially connected which lowers the risk of loneliness and depression.
A person’s physical health may also be rewarded by serving others. A four-year study between 2006 and 2010 was published in Psychology and Aging and found that adults 50+ who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. Blood pressure is a very important indicator of health because when it is elevated, it increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
Another benefit is that when we serve, God increases our faith by showing us our potential. Seeing what God can do when His power is at work within us gives us the confidence to do even more for Him and to look for new doors He is opening for us to serve others with our gifts.
Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. Ephesians 3:20
A couple of years ago, I was asked to teach a Bible study with a group of women at Exodus, a ministry that “empowers formerly incarcerated mothers and their children to achieve a productive and fulfilling life through Jesus Christ.”
They fulfill this mission statement of theirs by giving the women a place to live with their children for one full year, teaching them vital parenting, employment, and relationship skills as well as money management and Biblical principles.
The Bible study I was asked to teach was one I had recently written and published titled, Beauty in a Life Repurposed.
It was an open door for me to use my gifts of writing and teaching to serve. I was so blessed through my experience with these women and it gave me the confidence I needed to teach my Bible study to many other groups of women that followed as God continued to open other new doors.
Serving is an Investment in Eternity
When you take time to serve others you may not see the results of your hard work right away, but you are planting seeds of generosity which will produce a generous harvest one day for eternity.
Know that you are making a difference by investing in people who may come to know Christ through you because of the love you have shown them by serving. In time, either here on earth or in eternity, your blessings will be overflowing.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6
Take Time to Refresh
If you find yourself exhausted from overworking, make some changes in your life before you are forced to rest due to serious health consequences. Consider taking an extended period of rest, otherwise known as a vacation!
Research has found that after taking a vacation, workers are less stressed and have higher levels of energy – exactly what you need to be able to serve God using your gifts with enthusiasm and vitality!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. One of the best ways to recharge is to go to a place where you are outdoors surrounded by the beauty in nature. It allows your brain to wander, rest, and recover from the wired world of digital communication and the frenzied pace and noise around you. There is a sense of peace you feel when you are in nature and far away from a stressful environment.
Spending time in nature also increases your ability to pay attention. It activates the senses such as seeing vivid colors, smelling the fragrances of flowers, and listening to birds and other wildlife. Focusing on what your senses are experiencing gives your overactive mind a much-needed break, allowing it to refresh.
My husband, Michael, and I enjoy traveling to a different vacation spot every year – a place where we have never been. It always involves the outdoors in some way. Last year, we went to Asheville, North Carolina which provided plenty of great trails for hiking. It was a place where we could slow down, de-stress, and even inspire our creativity.
Make it a priority to have an escape from your regular routine of responsibilities at least once a year. With a rested and refreshed mind and body, you will be more open to all the new ways God wants to use your gifts for His glory.
I recently expressed my inspired creativity through designing this “Colors of Summer” necklace…yellow crystal beads representing warm sunshine, a blue druzy for cool water, and a coral tassel for the beach – one of my favorite places to completely relax.
It is a good reminder for me to take time for play and especially for rest. I want to be refreshed and ready whenever God has a new door He is holding wide open for me to serve others and, in turn, receive an eternal blessing infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes!
Sparkler #1: Prayer
If you struggle with wanting to serve others, ask God to reveal more of Himself to you so you can truly know Him and have a desire to serve out of love for Him.
Sparkler #2: Action
Make it a priority to balance work and rest, take time each day to be in nature, and find a place you can go at least once a year that will provide a stress-free vacation so you can be refreshed.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Be proactive and search for a new way to use your gifts in the community to serve others. Then, see how that bold step leads to God opening other new doors for you to serve so you can invest in your eternal blessing.
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