Randy Gardner holds the world record for the longest period of staying awake without stimulants, 264 hours. That’s eleven days. Some upstarts on the internet claim to have beaten him, but apparently he’s the only guy who’s actually been verified by a scientist sitting around watching him not sleep. It makes me wonder when the scientist slept. Does he hold the record too?
I personally stayed awake for about 48 hours once in college, but in the spirit of full disclosure, there were massive amounts of Diet Pepsi involved. Okay, so I may not have come close to breaking the world record for not sleeping, but I’m convinced that I am serious contender for the world record of not resting.
Rest is more than sleep. Rest is stopping. Rest is renewing. For people like me, rest is difficult.
I had a friend challenge me once with the question, “If someone took a hard look at your life, would they want what you have? Would anyone want to be like you?” It’s made me think about several areas of my life, but the one that always comes to the top of the Reasons People Would Not Want to Be Like Jason list is the way I handle I rest.
I’m typically busy, running late and cramming to get as much done as possible. I say yes to too many things. Even when I land in one place my mind is already on the next thing I have to do so I struggle to be fully present. When I get my to-do list finished, I end up creating more work for myself, either on the job or at home.
I’m not complaining. I love work. I love to have something to do. It’s just that life is about more than doing. Life is about being. Being happens best during periods of rest. And out of that “being” time, I gain the strength and perspective to go back to doing.
I know all that. I’ve heard countless teachers enumerate the benefits of what the Bible calls “sabbath,” which just means stopping and letting God run the universe for awhile. Yet, I continue to have a rest debt. Why?
I did a little brainstorming this week, and here are the first reasons that came to mind of why I don’t rest:
- I have too much to do.
- I don’t want to disappoint anyone.
- I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity.
- I don’t want to say no to myself or others.
- I don’t want to fall behind.
- I don’t want to be lazy.
- Rest requires discipline.
- Rest feels selfish.
Some of these excuses contradict themselves. I say I don’t want to be lazy, and yet I claim I don’t rest because it requires discipline. Blowing off something because it requires discipline? That actually sounds kind of lazy. Like most of us, when I dig below the surface, I find a bundle of contradictions.
The bottom line, though, is that all of the excuses I’ve given actually should motivate me to rest. Rest renews me and helps me to be at my best. If I have too much to do, then I actually need more rest to get it all done. If I don’t want to disappoint anyone, then I need to offer them the best version of myself. This is the rested version of me. The rested version of me doesn’t just get enough sleep, but has downtime, relational time, hang out time with the people I love.
Resting isn’t just another item on my to-do list. It’s not the distasteful broccoli of life management I’ve been trying to avoid. It’s a gift.
The Bible says there is actually a God who wants to help us with our doing time by offering us His perspective, wisdom and strength to make us more effective. But we access His resources during periods of rest. It’s how we’re designed.
Maybe for you that means working out in your yard or going on a walk. I have some friends who refuel by cooking. For me, I rest best in nature, by reading and journaling and sometimes just staring out the window and daydreaming. Others rest better with friends.
Whatever fills your tank is rest.
If you think about it, by the time Adam and Eve came on to the scene there really wasn’t much to do. God had already made everything, so He basically said, “Hey, check out this new creation stuff. Pretty cool, huh? Let’s hang out.”
Sounds like a great idea to me. So, I’m going to stop right here and take my own advice. It’s time to turn off the computer and go on a bike ride with my wife. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll set a record as the most rested guy in the world.