Revive Our Hearts Radio

The Value of Rest

Leslie Basham: Yesterday on Revive Our Hearts, Shona and David Murray talked about the importance of sleep and exercise. That led us to wonder, If it’s hard to fit it all in, which is more important? Sleep or exercise?

Dr. David Murray: I think if you’re at the end of day and you have to choose between exercise or sleep, what you want to do is a little exercise, like a non-vigorous walk, so that you’re not getting all these chemicals going that make you alert and bright and not able to sleep all night. but do enough stimulation to get your body into a state where you can enjoy better sleep. Because I think that’s the wonderful thing about exercise; it helps you sleep better!

Dr. Shona Murray: You have to fit it in, again, within your limitations. If you’ve had a long, busy day, you can live in that twenty-four-hour period without exercise, but you really will struggle to live successfully or productively without sleep, so I would prioritize sleep.

And, again, it’s humility. It’s saying, “If Christ was in front of me just now, what would He say?” I think, very often, when you put it like that, it’s very easy to decide what to do next or what not to do next.

David: He would say, “Come to me, all [you] who [are weary] and . . . heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for February 1, 2018. All this week Nancy’s been talking with David and Shona Murray.

He’s a pastor, and she’s a medical doctor. They teamed up to describe ways we can live out the biblical invitation, “Come to me, all who [are weary] . . . and I will give you rest.” 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, David, in that introduction, you brought up this whole subject of rest—which is actually an invitation from Jesus Himself. He calls us to come to Himself to find rest for our souls—body, soul, and spirit.

I want to talk about that whole subject that you unpack beautifully in this new book called Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands.

I’ve got to tell you, as I was reading some of these chapters over the last couple of days, I’m going, “Yes, yes, yes! I need this. Thank you; you wrote this for me!” I think a lot of our listeners are feeling that as they’re listening to this conversation. I know it’s not something you’ve arrived at and are here to lecture us on, but it’s a journey we’re on together as pilgrims.

But this whole thing of rest for our souls . . . Sabbath is a biblical concept. Help us unpack why this is so important. We’ve talked about sleep; we’ve talked about exercise. But this thing of ceasing from our activity—rest—why is it so important?

David: Most of the pastors I’ve counseled with depression, anxiety, burnout on that spectrum . . . common to them all, they were not taking a sabbath. They were not taking a weekly day of rest.

It’s was almost as if the fourth commandment said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”* (Asterisk: “Unless you’re a pastor. You can just work seven days straight every week of the year.”)

Nancy: And all of us, even those who are not pastors, can have our reasons for being the exception. 

David: Exactly. We’re always the exception! That’s not the only issue, but it was a common issue. It’s one of the quick fixes that can produce very quick, substantial results in our lives.

You know, we’re taught by this verse a lot: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). God has united stillness and knowledge of Him. It’s unbreakable! You cannot have knowledge of Him—true knowledge—without stillness in your life. I learned that the hard way, as many of the pastors I’ve since counseled did.

You can be engaged in a ton of ministry activity, as I was, and yet unbeknownst to yourself, undetected, you’re slipping gradually—or chilling gradually—away from intimate knowledge of God, from real daily communion with Him.

I’ve come to realize for myself, and I think the men that I’ve been counseling, that if we do nothing else in life, we must know God! We must have that daily, hourly, minute-ly communion with Him and dependence on Him and conversation with Him. Constant noise and movement make that impossible.

Nancy: It’s not a friend to grace.

David: It’s not. One of the provisions we talked about was sleep. Another is Sabbath, the weekly sabbath. It was created, Jesus himself said, for man—for humanity’s benefit (see Mark 2:27). It was created before there was any sin in the world, before there was any curse in the world.

It’s actually a concept, amazingly, which secular sources are increasingly recognizing as a key concept to general health and well-being. I noticed a group the other day . . . I think there’s this thing called the Sabbath Manifesto. It's  group of secularists and others.

Basically, they’ve opened their eyes and their ears, and they’ve seen that this seven-day-a-week thing is not working. And, lo and behold, one day in seven seems to have worked really well! I wonder why? (laughter). We know why: because God made us with that bodily rhythm.

I think one of the great things to discover is that weekly Sabbath. When Shona and I were married, we agreed with one another (well, let's be truthful, she got me to agree), “David, you’ve got to take a day off a week for me and, eventually when the kids come along, for the kids, too.”

I think twice in my life I broke the promise. I said, “Shona, I’ve just gotta do that work this week; I’ve just got to.” It was usually a Monday we took off, initially, and, “Just one week, you know, just an exception.” Well, by the end of the week, I’d accomplished no more—and I was in a far worse mood.”

Nancy: Interesting. Wow.

David: So I think, again, the studies are showing—even outside of God’s Word—that a weekly sabbath actually results in more productivity in the long run.

Nancy: So, as a pastor, Sunday is not going your sabbath. That’s a workday, a day of labor for you. So you mostly have chosen Mondays. I think for most of us, we don’t have that kind of responsibility on Sunday.

It’s really valuable to set that day—the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week—aside as a weekly day in seven to give to the Lord; to have body, soul, and spirit refreshed; to rest. For those of us who, Sunday is going to be that day of rest for us, what are some of the components—some of the pieces—that you think can make it really a helpful day of rest?

Shona: The purpose being primarily spiritual is the overarching principle. Resting or ceasing (whichever you want to look at it) from the typical everyday buzz, be that your job, your run-around of friends, of running your sports, school stuff, whatever.

So, for us, I look forward to Sunday because it’s a day when house issues, when preparing to move, all that stuff, stops. On Sunday I have a legitimate reason where I can in good conscience say . . .

Nancy: “Stop packing!”

Shona: “Stop! I’m doing none of that.” I don’t have to do my laundry on Sunday. I don’t have to do any of these things. I’m free to just make sure we’re fed and watered, because the focus is on worshiping God that day. The focus is on spiritual nourishment, it’s on spiritual growth.

So, what that looks like as a family is: family devotions in the morning, then getting to church—on time—hearing God’s Word being preached and explained. What I often find is that, by the time the service is over, any distractions you had going into church have long gone, because you’re so taken up with the message and the worship. That’s a fuel for the rest of the day. 

Nancy: And the week!

Shona: And the week. We have Sunday dinner. We like to have our meat and vegetable and potatoes on Sunday, and the best dessert of the week. The kids enjoy that. All the kids are together—the whole family’s together.

Nancy: Some moms are going to say, “That doesn’t sound like a day off. That sounds like pressure!”

Shona: Pressure in one sense, but the food component is not important. The key thing is there is fellowship around the table as a family together. 

Nancy: . . . being together. 

Shona: That is a day when we’ve got to be together as a family, so we don’t have the usual, “Mom, gotta go. I can’t have lunch today.” No. We’re here together.

David: Shona’s a good delegator, too, on a Sunday—peeling potatoes, clean-up. 

Shona: Yes, when I come home, I say, “You do the spuds. You’re doing clean-up. You’re emptying the dishwasher.” My boys love the dishwasher. That sort of thing. I make sure that everyone’s doing something, and then it doesn’t all fall on me.

But if I don’t feel well or I forgot to go to the grocery story, it’s not the end of the day. We just heat something up. It’s about fellowship, it’s togetherness as a family, and we try to focus our conversation on the spiritual: What are you reading in your Bible? What did you think about that point in the sermon? What did you get out of the sermon today? What did you learn in catechism class today or in Sunday school?”

That winds up. David and I like to catch up a little bit on the day, get a moment in the sun with our cup of tea. Then everyone goes off for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We encourage “on your own time” for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon.

I try to read a bit, and I’ll nap. My younger one will go for a nap. David will study away. My boys will listen to Christian songs, or they’ll read books, or go to church for an afternoon youth group. We gather together at 5:00 in the evening briefly, and then we go to church in the evening and finish the day with public worship as well.

I know that’s not the pattern for everybody. This is what we do, and it works for our family. We get the best spiritual benefit out of that. But I the main focus, if you’re confused about what Sunday really is about . . . It’s not so much about, “Don’t do this; don’t do that.” It’s about, “God is freeing you of responsibility to enjoy Him more today.”

Nancy: Wow, I love that!

Shona: Right. If you focus on that, then if the kids come, “Oh, Sunday, I can’t go and do this, and I can’t go and do that.”

[Parent:] “Hey, you know what? Today, you get to worship God! You get to meet your church friends. You get to remind yourself of what life is really all about.”

We get some of our best spiritual discussions as a family on Sunday. Again, it doesn’t have to be a big, long, intense interrogation of each child. It’s got to be light. It’s got to be engaging. 

Nancy: Life-giving!

Shona: Life-giving. It’s also a time when we encourage them to share what are the stresses they’ve had that week that they haven’t had the chance to off-load and share, so that we know. We want to know where our kids are spiritually.

We want to know what worries they have, anything we can help them with and guide them with. And we try to do the same with them: “Look, we’ve got this issue right now. We’re thinking about maybe . . . What do you guys think?” It's just a small picture of Heaven, I guess, the eternal rest.

Nancy: Yes.

Shona: It’s the one day in the week when . . . It’s hard enough for us as believers to stop. If any of our children, some of them do not yet know the Lord personally, you’re almost trying to slow them down so that they are thinking about eternity.

David: Shona said our pattern is not the pattern for everyone. This is what we have developed over the years; you can’t jump from nothing to that.

Nancy: Sure.

David: I think the two principles to keep in mind are: God’s example in the creation. On the seventh day of creation there was a cessation of all unnecessary physical activity and an engagement in spiritual contemplation. That’s what God did; that’s how He hallowed that day.

I think that’s the pattern for us, and how that works out for people will be different. I think what such a Sabbath does is it gives you a new perspective on life. It doesn’t just slow you down for the Sunday. It changes Monday to Saturday because you’re looking at things more from a divine perspectiv, from an eternal perspective, and from the benefit of being renewed by worship, by the Word, and by the fellowship of God’s people.

Again, this isn’t something I do perfectly, but we’ve both found that one of the key things to successful sabbath-ing is cutting technology.

Nancy: I was just thinking, you haven’t mentioned technology yet. Where does that fit in?

David: That’s got to be the day when you stop frying your mind . . . that really is!

Nancy: Is that what we’re doing?!

David: That’s what we’re doing. We are frying our minds, and it feels like that at times, too, doesn’t it?

Nancy: Yes, it does, absolutely.

David: Again, we need stillness. How do we create that stillness into which the knowledge of God comes? So, maybe check email once in the day, avoid social media. Do we need to know all the news of the day?

Well, as a pastor, I usually check the news headlines just before service in case there’s something I should pray about, but apart from that, I try to keep clear of it. Again, I don’t do this perfectly, but I know when it’s closer to the ideal, Sunday’s different. And that makes Monday to Saturday different as well.

Nancy: Okay, you all are clearly not “millennials,” but you have some teenagers. There’s a whole different mindset there with those who’ve grown up not knowing anything other than 24/7 being plugged in. Does this really matter—for any era, any generation?

And again, we’re not saying, “Here’s the list of do’s and don’ts,” but speak to a generation that is totally plugged in all the time (which all of us are, increasingly). What difference does it make whether we ever unplug or not?

David: Well, I’ll sum it up very briefly . . . it’s killing us. I can expand on that if you want. I love technology—I’m a technophile—I just love it! But, and it’s not just Christians saying this, it’s a very broad range of secular opinion, from a sociological viewpoint, educational viewpoint, health viewpoint. 

We're seeing, increasingly, the digital revolution is changing us in detrimental ways. It’s damaging us, and I think even out of self-interest—never mind spiritual interest at the moment—but even out of self-interest, I truly believe that the young people, the millennials, that are able to get their technology under control and develop a disciplined life in that area, the competitive advantage they are going to have, over the long haul, is going to make them soar career-wise in whatever field they are in, because our brains were not made for this. Our brains need rest; they need quiet; they need peace; they need down time.

It’s like a muscle. When it’s continually being stimulated and exercised, it’s being worn down and worn down and worn down. We’re only ten to fifteen years into the real digital era, and so it’s been a while until we realize just what it’s doing to us. But the science is in, and it’s really bad! On a physical, emotional, mental, relational viewpoint, it’s really bad, but on a spiritual viewpoint it is devastating. We will not know God properly, I don’t believe, until we get it under control.

Nancy: Shona, you talk about something called a “she hour,” and I think it’s something that plays into this, where there’s a coming apart to be still, to be present with the Lord. Explain that concept.

Shona: The “she hour,” essentially, is a period of time in the day when you are alone. I don’t include in that, specifically, your devotional time. So for me, for example, my devotional time is first thing in the morning before the kids are up.

Because once kids are up . . . For a lot of moms of young kids, unfortunately, the kids will get up before them, so that’s not going to happen for them. The “she hour” may, then, be a time when they can do their devotions or it might be later when dad’s home. But the “she hour” itself, is really . . .

Nancy: And for those who are missing, with the accent, we’re saying, “she hour.”

Shona: The “she hour” comes from the concept of “she shed.” There’s an article that David and I came across recently where this lady had literally built a shed in her yard. She would go every day for an hour so. She made it and painted it the way she wanted so that she felt calm and relaxed and the world shut out. She did whatever she wanted to do to relax in there. The key thing was that she was alone, undistracted.

We don’t need to build one of these, but we can have our own she shed. We can have a she shed in employment. You can use your lunch hour to get away from everybody else and just to be in quiet and silence.

You can do the same as a student—get away from your classes, your friends, your professors, just for some quiet in the day. Mums, especially with young children . . .

Nancy: . . . are going to say, “There’s no such thing!”

Shona: . . .are going to say, “I have no time for a she-shed! She shed . . . what’s that? She time . . . what’s that?” But I would say to you, you really need it, because you’re going to benefit from it, and your kids are going to benefit from it.

Children will do well if they learn to entertain themselves for one hour in the day—at least. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it. It’s actually self-preservation, and it’s injecting fuel into your relationship with your kids and helping them thrive, too.

What does it look like? Primarily, you’re alone—no distractions. If the kids are small . . . I used to have a bedroom gate on their bedroom. The kids play on the other side of that in their room. I might be in my bedroom next door. I can hear what’s going on, but they’re not getting over there, and I don’t need to go over there unless something terrible is happening.

So you can read—and I love reading—and read in an undistracted way. For some people they like to exercise. I’ve got a student friend who likes to make baskets and make things with wood and pieces of furniture. She also likes to go to a coffee shop and sit looking at the window, just hearing and watching life go by.

It can include listening to sermons, listening to good music—devotional music. It can involve anything that is, not necessarily spiritual, but is a God-given gift which is given to be enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be reading a Christian book. It can be reading something that you have a particular interest in like history or science. Or just a novel that’s actually—for myself—it’s got to have some relevance and be spiritually helpful. But only each individual knows best what helps them relax. The point is that you set the time aside and do it.

For some, it’s going and sitting with a friend in a coffee shop. For another friend it’s going and breaking sweat—exercising—she loves to do that.

Nancy: For me, it probably would be going over to the piano—which is sitting in my house and I never do—but that would be relaxing for me.

Shona: Playing the piano; it is relaxing. And for myself, often I find for me it’s literally sitting still outside on a warm day just listening to nature.

Nancy: Well, we don’t have so many of those warm days up north here, so we take advantage of them when we get them, right?

Shona: Exactly! I think just sometimes sitting and listening to quiet. The phone switched off, that is key. So messages . . .

Nancy: Scrolling through Facebook feed or Instagram, that’s not . . .

Shona: You can do it, but it’s not going to rest your mind. If you’re like me, you’ll find that suddenly you click on an email, and you think, Oh, I really should reply to that just now,” and before I know it, my she hour is gone because I’ve gotten on there. And I get a ping notification, a message from someone and, “Oh, I’d better do that now; I’ll forget.”

Off the phone goes. It works best if you switch your phone off for an hour. The world is not going to stop.

One of the things that is a challenge is realizing, “Really, the world will get on just fine for an hour without me.”

Nancy: And we will get along better if we’ve been without the world for an hour!

Shona: We will be refreshed, and we will hear God’s voice in the quiet. If we make that a habit every day . . . I’ve often found, doing something in quiet . . . Fly fishing is something I like to do. It’s so quiet. I love hearing the birds. I've found it’s so conducive to thinking of the Scripture, or remembering something from experience that was bad or whatever and, “See what God has done in my life?” It could be a great opportunity for reflection, if you’re doing something with your hands.

So, it’s endless. It really is what do you find is the most effective way to relax and unwind?

Leslie: That’s Shona Murray. She and her husband, David, have been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about ways to develop a healthy pattern of work and then rest. David and Shona have written a book to help you find these kinds of healthy rhythms. It’s called Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands.

We’d like to send you a copy so this new year ahead will be one of balance and healthy rhythms of hard work and true rest. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’d like to send you this book.

Just call 1–800–569–5959 to make a donation of any size, and ask for Refresh, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you ever think of healthy meals—and sleep—as a luxury that you’ll get around to someday, if you can? David and Shona Murray will be back tomorrow to help you make some healthy changes now!

Shona: I think it’s important to view these things—like exercise and food and sleep—as God’s gifts. They’re not luxuries; they are not things that are extravagances. They are actually essentials! So if you ditch these, you are actually jettisoning vital survival resources!

Leslie: Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you discover true rest in Jesus. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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