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Need a Break? Here’s Why Rest Is ‘Holy’


I have been spending my summers at the end of an inlet in Canada for the last twenty years. It’s more than remote and the nearest house is ten thousand square miles away. We grow our vegetables, make our electricity from a glacier on the property, and I take my small boat out to catch fish. It’s self-care with a purpose. It’s like a wide spot on the road where there’s no roads for a hundred miles.

We need to find a healthy and sustainable cadence in our lives. Periods of diligent work and other times filled with intentional rest. Developing an awareness of the pace and rhythm of our lives is necessary for us to pursue our most important ambitions and to fill our physical, spiritual, and emotional tanks.

There’s a set of rapids next to our property. Getting to the other side of the rapids is easy at slack tide when the water stops moving. Still waters don’t happen often in the inlet and they don’t happen often in our lives. When the rapids are running, which is most of the time, there can be a four-foot-tall standing wave of water as the immense currents sweep everything not sufficiently anchored through them. Getting past the rapids when they’re running fast takes more than a little focus and intentionality. It’s not a dangerous place if you know what you’re doing, but these rapids have proven deadly for some who entered them unaware of their power.

Not unlike these rapids, the events and circumstances of our lives can feel like fast moving water. What we need to figure out to be emotionally and spiritually healthy is how to navigate these currents. We do this by creating safe places to where we can find our way.

Earlier this week, I took my small boat through the rapids which were running strongly against me. I made it through and was twenty feet from a dock on the other side when the engine on my boat quit. It turns out I was out of gas. If you’re running on fumes today, I know you can relate. There’s no shame in being exhausted. It happens to all of us at some point. I ran out of gas twenty feet from a dock. Perhaps it happened to you half way through this year, a third of the way through a difficult job, midway in a difficult relationship. Perhaps you’ve been running on fumes for a while and it’s become so familiar it feels normal. It’s not. You need to get some rest and fill your tank again.

I could hear the rapids behind me and with no paddle and no engine I started drifting into the rapids backwards in my small boat. This would not likely end well. The currents in our lives aren’t cruel, but they are present and unrelenting and predictable. They will pull us away from safe places like a strong tide. When they do, we need to figure out what we’ve got and use it. I didn’t have an engine, but I still had a fishing pole. I cast my lure for the dock, hooked it and reeled myself in. Grace isn’t holding us by a thread; it only comes the size of a cable.

If you feel like you’re running on fumes today or have run out of gas twenty feet from the dock, remember this. Rest is holy. Get some. Take all the faith you’ve got and cast it towards the dock. If you’re feeling low on hope, find a counselor or a friend or a leader in the faith community you identify with. Invite them into your boat and have a vulnerable, transparent conversation with them about what you’re up against. You’ll know you’ve found the right person to talk to because they won’t try to fix you, they’ll just be with you.

This essay was featured in the Aug. 4th edition of The Sunday Paper. The Sunday Paper inspires hearts and minds to rise above the noise. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.


Bob Goff is the author of New York Times Bestsellers “Love Does” and “Everybody Always.” He is Sweet Maria’s Goff’s husband, a dad of three, the founder of Love Does, a nonprofit organization working in conflict zones and the honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda.