How can we feel rested? A quick survey of any of the dozens of articles on the web about how to sleep better indicates that many of us struggle to feel refreshed, alert, energetic – at least on a regular basis. But what if feeling rested wasn’t actually dependent on the pace of our lives, or on the number of hours of shut-eye we managed to achieve?
In the second chapter of Genesis, the Bible leads with an example of rest that flies in the face of all the human advice on the same subject. In the first chapter of Genesis, we get the story of the whole glorious creation, which God created spiritually to be wonderfully good. Chapter 2 concludes the creation story this way: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made” (Genesis 2:1, 2).
I’ve come to love this vision of God resting, because during a particularly busy time last fall – when I struggled to feel rested myself – it dawned on me that God didn’t rest on the seventh day because He was really tired from all the creating He had done. He didn’t need a break. In fact, such a view anthropomorphizes God, who is Spirit itself, and whose spiritual creation is the reflection of His infinite being.
Spirit, Mind, and its idea – man and the universe – coexist eternally. So the human view of God busily creating land and sea and everything upon and within them – and then taking a day off – needs to be elevated to a spiritual perspective in order to truly understand the creation story.
Praying about the spiritual nature of God and man, as given in the Bible, and as elucidated by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, I saw something new about rest. In the Genesis story, I realized, “rest” symbolized the completeness of creation. So God’s “resting” expressed God’s perfect satisfaction with what He conceives, because God sees His limitless universe as whole and perfect.
Likewise, because this spiritual quality of rest is an attribute of God, I saw that it must also be included in the nature of man. Rest isn’t something out there to be attained or lost depending on the busyness of our schedules or the quality of our sleep. It is part of the completeness of creation. That we can rest and feel rested celebrates the completeness of creation and our identity as the very image and likeness of a restful God.
In the middle of days that had been scheduled wall-to-wall, I began to look for moments to rest – to thank God for the completeness of His creation, which included every facet of my work. Instead of entertaining suggestions that I should feel depleted, I affirmed that my own being was also complete – the expression of every restful, peaceful, ever-renewing quality of God. And when I was tempted to think that I could possibly possess the power to drive a project forward, I reminded myself that all power and ability came from God. It reminded me of a portion of Mary Baker Eddy’s elucidation in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “God rests in action” (p. 519). My perception changed as I saw that, as God’s reflection, God’s restful activity was all I could express.
The refreshment I experienced during this period felt so natural, because it came from seeing myself as I truly am: spiritual, not material; complete instead of lacking. That’s the promise of resting “in the Lord,” as Psalm 37 puts it. As we rest in what God has already done in us, and in the universe, we’ll find not just peace in our days, but also the healing touch of renewal.