For those of you who do not know, we came back to the states last week for a time of rest and a chance to get out of the heat for a while. I know you may be thinking that Florida is not the place to go to get out of the heat, but let me assure you it definitely is! The outside heat is never the problem in Haiti for us, it is the heat inside our house. It is one thing to have to work outside in 90 – 100 degree heat everyday, but it is quite another thing to come back into your house after doing that work and it is just as hot if not hotter than outside. In fact, the main reason we came back a couple of weeks earlier than we planned is because Sophie’s bedroom, each night when we put her to bed, was registering at 97 degrees or more every single night. Can you imagine putting your 6 month old to bed in that kind of heat? It was not easy. So we came back home and we are researching how to make her room a little cooler with the caveat that our house is run on solar power during the day and then batteries at night so air conditioners, in general, are not a viable fix.
Anyway, let me get to the point of this post and the main reason that we are home right now…Rest. The truth is that it is impossible to rest in Haiti. There is always so much to do, it is always so hot, and the minute you decide to take a break is the minute that everything messes up at the same time. So we came back to our apartment in Jacksonville for about a month to prepare ourselves for the next few months of ministry in Haiti. (We will be taking the next 2 weeks off, but any of the first 3 weeks of August we would love to come and speak at your church, Sunday School class, etc. if you are located in Jacksonville! When we come back in November we will make ourselves available in other locations as well.) When talking about the subject of rest, there are many angles you could take and arguments you could make from a spiritual/Biblical perspective, a mental health perspective, a physical health perspective, or even an emotional perspective and they would all be valid. Of course, as a pastor, I go back to the idea of Sabbath rest in the Bible and how important it is to make sure that you are resting in Christ and making a relationship with Him the priority in your life no matter what. However, today is not one of my “preaching” blogs. Today I want to tell you some of my experience and how difficult it can be to find a time to rest in today’s world.
First of all, I understand that my experience as a missionary will be different than the experiences of many of the people who read this blog, but the principles are the same. The biggest thing about rest that I have noticed on the mission field is that there is a perception that “rest” is a weakness…Sound familiar? We are taught to work hard, push through pain, and to set and achieve goals no matter the cost. These ideas, to an extent, are good and positive things but they can always be taken too far. On the mission field, there is almost this contest of who goes home the fewest number of times, how much work we have accomplished in the shortest period of time, and when the last time we took a day off was. It is funny, I remember standing around talking to other missionaries it is almost like a badge of courage/honor for me to say something like, “I haven’t had a day off in over 3 months” similar to going around the circle saying, “I caught a fish this big.” If you think about it, that is a crazy (and I might add stupid) thing to be proud of. Why on earth would I be proud that I have not taken a day off in months? That is not what we are called to Biblically, it is not what is best for our families, it is definitely not what is best for our marriages, and it is not what is best for our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The problem is that consistent and healthy rest is looked down upon rather than valued in our American mindset. I mentioned before that in Haiti rest is very difficult to come by so we have to be creative and we have to make sure that we are very selfish with our time when we come home. It is so easy to focus on work, fundraising, speaking engagements, etc. when I should be focusing on my family. So my challenge for all of us today is for each of us to be intentional with finding rest. And I don’t mean sleep more (even though we probably should) or watch more television…I mean plan in time every day to be be with your wife and your family, plan time each day to be with your Savior, plan time each week to rest together, and plan time each year to be away with just your family.