Choosing Rest

Explore the possibility that rest involves an intentional choice. That in rest, circumstances around us may not be ideal, but that rest involves a soul experience and transformation taking place.

Sashi Sehgal

1/10/20244 min read

As you read this right now, you probably have a whole host of expectations to ‘get done now!’ You might even be squashing this reading into a gap of time where time pressures exist either side. Something in our world is forcing us into life accompanied by speed. Just a glimpse at me will tell you that I am no Usain Bolt. Yet I have times when I expect a turnaround faster than he can move down a track! My internet has to get to that next address before I can click my fingers. I expected that person to get back to my email with the response I want immediately, and my parcel to arrive yesterday – just after I bought it!

How does that same movement affect life at home? I am better now, but sometimes I feel as if I am living as a ‘jerk in recovery’ when it came to expecting everything my kids done on time every time they were doing it. The reason they got pressure was because I bathed in it! Somewhere, several years later, I burned out. Life was sucked dry and it led to a re-evaluation of how I chose to do life.

Life is not intended to be like this… During the Creation epic, we are told(1) God made an intentional decision to engage with rest:

On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all his work of creation.

Some of you will be thinking, ‘well God can rest: He is, after all God!’ And I am sure it is possible to make you feel like a failure by telling you how wrong you’ve got it. Just ask Job about how easy it is for accusation to pile up… In reality, I don’t know your circumstances and I have no right to tell you how much time you have right now or what you should be doing. You could be a single parent, or caregiver already tired and tied up with a full time job on top of looking after your loved one. You may be in a situation where you are forced to work seven days a week just to make sure you have enough to feed your family. You may even be in prison and struggling to survive some crazy circumstances which you never dreamed of being in. Rest may well seem like a luxurious island far away from the remote and isolated location you live in. In such cases, and ones that may feel just like them - thank you for taking some time to draw aside.

When you think of rest, what images come to mind? It’s easy to apply an idealistic, somewhat idealised image of the way that rest is supposed to look like. For the majority of people in our world, rest like that both doesn’t and will never exist.

It is for that reason that I find the teaching that Jesus gave about rest so encouraging. He focused upon the need that our whole being has for genuine care and the profound state of inner relief from burdens which others may know nothing of, including those nagging thoughts or even physical pains caused by failures and regrets of times past. Memories of other’s actions towards us can feel like chains that are unbreakable.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus laid out an invitation to everyone and anyone. There are no qualifications required for being overwhelmed, broken, or even just plain tired. All He cares about is letting you and I know that regardless of where things started, that He wants to pour life into you by offering loving and supportive soul care.

Jesus is not here to label you, in fact, He would love to pull off all those labels others have put on you.

His one expectation of you is very simply to choose encounter with Him; to RSVP, ‘Yes, I’m in’; ‘I’m desperate, I’m thirsty, I’m done – and I need You’(2).

You are of course welcome to keep going at it alone, but now you don’t have to.

You have a choice.

You may have been trying to go at it alone, maybe to prove something to everyone around you or maybe just yourself. Jesus is calling you. Would you like to take off the expectations and learn a different life rhythm? He would love to help you.

Root this now

A. If you are addicted to speed (time not the drug!), would you consider acknowledging it? It may be helpful to let a trusted friend know that you are aware that you need to make some changes, and invite them to pray with you as you do so.

B. Could you articulate how you are feeling to God? Prayer was never supposed to be difficult; it is a conversation with God. Why not start talking with Him? If there is a lot on, wherever you are, God is right there with you. You can even talk to Him whilst you clean the dishes...

C. Have you been disqualifying yourself from rest, believing there are other’s far more important than you that Jesus is focusing upon. Regardless of how you view yourself, if you recognise you are tired, overwhelmed and feeling undone, Jesus says you are ‘good enough’ to receive His care. It maybe helpful, as an act of gratitude, to thank Him for what He has done. Consider keeping this at the forefront of your mind over the next week.


1. Genesis 2, New Living Translation

2. John 7:37, New Living Translation

New Directions UK Blog.

Sashi Sehgal, January 2024