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rest

The Spiritual Value of Doing Nothing

It is only when we cease from our striving and rest in the unconditional love of Christ that our soul begins to be nourished and restored. It is only then that we can experience a worth that attaches to our being and not simply our doing. It is only as we experience God’s acceptance of us as we are that genuine growth “from the inside out” can begin to occur in our lives. Just as a person who is physically wounded, sick, or hungry needs rest and nourishment to be healed and restored, so too a person who is spiritually wounded, sick, or hungry (which to some extent includes all of us!) needs rest in order to be made well.

All sin in our life is in one way or another a symptom of our being spiritually wounded, sick, or hungry. To the extent that we live in the flesh, we are deceived and cut off from our true source of life and live in a spiritually wounded, sick, or hungry state. Our own efforts to make ourselves better will be of no help. Far from breaking the deception of the flesh that plagues us, our own efforts to make ourselves whole only reinforce this deception.

Our works themselves can become another idolatrous source of life. Far from feeding us, they make us only more hungry. Far from restoring us, they make us only more tired. Our works may, of course, succeed in producing the appearance of wholeness. But until the inner deception of the flesh is broken, the inner self will be wounded, sick, and hungry.

What the soul needs more than anything else in this hungry, weary, and wounded state is rest. The primary way the deception of the flesh is broken is by resting in the truth. The primary way the hunger of our soul is satisfied is by feasting on the spiritual food it was created to enjoy. The primary way the sickness of the soul is cured is by resting in the health and life of its Creator. We grow healthy as we rest, in the midst of all our sickness and wounds, in the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ.

The first thing that is necessary if one is to rest fruitfully in Christ is to set aside some time to do nothing. There is a time for intercessory prayer, but this is not it. There is a time for Bible reading and devotions, but this is not it. There is a time for working at changing ourselves, for new beginnings and for making new commitments to God, but again this is not such a time. This is to be a time for complete rest, a time for doing nothing.

The only goal of this time is for you to just be you, with all your imperfections, and to let Christ just be Christ in all his perfection. It is a time to just rest in truth: the truth of who you are and the truth of who God is. And both are found in Jesus, who is fully God and fully human.

—Adapted from Seeing is Believing, pages 104-105

Image by Doug Scortegagna via Flickr

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