Written by Nate Wieland. Media by Maggie Schoepke.
To those who are unfamiliar with the United States, the bustle of a busy New York street with taxis honking, flashing billboards, and ceaseless streams of people hurrying to their destination might come to mind. This image does not represent our entire country but it certainly captures an American mindset of constant hustle. We wear busyness as a badge of honor. The more we stuff onto our plate, the more responsibility we juggle, the more successful we are in the eyes of the public. We work ourselves to death and console ourselves by imagining some vague, distant retirement fifty years down the road.
How can we reconcile this American mindset with the Christian belief that God values rest? In Exodus 33:14 God proclaims, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” and in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says,
come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Why, then, as American Christians, do we have such a hard time resting when scripture clearly emphasizes its importance?
The Bible portrays rest as being in God’s presence. So, clearing our schedules of activities and responsibilities won’t necessarily ensure the restfulness we seek. We must regain the lost art of sauntering if we are to fully embrace the life God has given us. This means slowing down and seeking our Heavenly Father by freeing our minds of distractions. All too often, we don’t notice our blessings because we are too focused on the looming future. Ironically, I started formulating ideas for this article as I was sitting in church, and consequently, was not present during the message. I forfeited my church experience for the future. So, take the time to appreciate your abundant blessings in the midst of your daily routine. You don’t want to miss out on something wonderful God has for you. Exist contentedly in God’s presence, not the future, and be open to His calling in every situation.
We cannot experience God’s blessings ahead of time, it must be done in the present.
Practice sauntering by appreciating the mundane details around you and you’ll surely find God in all activities of your daily life. Absorb the beauty of the trees when you walk to class. Be present with your friends and love them well. Saunter as you sit at home, take a walk, share meals with others, immerse yourself in a good book, enjoy your favorite Netflix series, play the sport you love, learn in the classroom, etc. The future we imagine can never match the brilliance of God’s now. In all that you do, be present and appreciate the beauty around you.
Be aware of God’s presence so that you can revel in it and rediscover what it means to be at rest with God, sauntering through life.