Updated on March 31, 2017
When it becomes clear you need a break
I am terrible at taking breaks. I can plow through the work in front of me for hours on end without ever stopping to look up. I will forget to eat lunch, forget to take a drink of water, forget to pause and take a breath, forget that I have children who need to be fed and kept from attempting to ride their bikes over fences. I will only see the work. The ticking of the clock and the constant whir of my spinning brain will drown out everything around me. Take a break? What’s that?
You know how it goes. So much to do so little time. And so you do, and you do and you… but then your body begins to revolt. This week, for me, it came in the form of a dull ache that started at the base of my back and worked its way up to the middle of my shoulder blades. The ache persisted and eventually I couldn’t move my arms without pain shooting down my spine. What in the world? My kids laughed that I was getting old. My husband offered to rub my shoulders, but I shook it off. I just kept working; ignoring the pain. It will be fine. I just need to finish…
You know the drill. The way you convince yourself that the whole world might collapse if you take a break. Yeah. That’s what the voices in my head say.
But then I am digging through my disaster of a desk frantically searching for a paper. And buried deep under the random books and sticky notes is a verse I taped to that desk years ago. It is smeared and aged with time and coffee spills; the words barely legible.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
It stops me in my tracks. And these other words of the prophet Isaiah echo in my head as well. “I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9). It falls on my heart like this:
Hey, Leigh? Slow down a minute. Take a breath. You can take a break. Remember you’re not the boss of it all. I really do have this all figured out. No one is better at being in charge of all the things than me. I AM God. Be. Still.
Yeah. He doesn’t need my help. He’s God.
My heart slows and I let the words sink in. “Be still and know“. Know that he is working his purposes out. Know that his will is being done whether I understand it or not. Know that he is God; not me.
I look at the mess on my desk and I laugh. The remnants of trying to be in charge are scattered all around. Slowly I just sit and rest in the knowledge that I serve a God who loves me more than I can even imagine. My shoulders relax and I feel my breath return. He loves me enough to remind me that I’m not in charge of it all. Nothing will fall to pieces if I just quit for a minute. Why am I always so slow to embrace this concept? So insistent on racing to the next thing?
What about you? I don’t know where you find yourself this weekend. In these parts, we are heading into Spring Break, but maybe you are still in the middle of a busy season where a break isn’t possible. Maybe the work load is heavy and the pile of papers high. So can I just encourage you to pause where you are for a moment?
Look up. Find the sky. Fix your eyes away from the work and hear your Father whisper this over you.
“I have upheld you since you were conceived and carried you since birth… I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).
He is a good, good Father; one who never stops being in charge. One who is always, always working. We can take a break from being the boss for awhile. We can trust that he’s got it; no matter how urgent or pressing the work in front of us may seem.
May you lean into that as this weekend comes. Take a break, even if just for a moment. Take a breath and let the love and the strength of your heavenly Father sink into those deep and tired places.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
And Happy Spring Break to all of you who live in the world of school calendars.
P.S. I am not at the beach. I just love to look at the picture from last summer and pretend! Should you not be going anywhere exciting either, you can do the same!