The Rest of the Story

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:

  1. I have too much to do.
  2. I don’t want to disappoint anyone.
  3. I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity.
  4. I don’t want to say no to myself or others.
  5. I don’t want to fall behind.
  6. I don’t want to be lazy.
  7. Rest requires discipline.
  8. 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.


The Doppelganger Effect

I have an evil twin who lives in the same city as me.  Or maybe he’s the good twin.  Probably depends on the day.  Last week I took my daughter to the doctor, and when I walked into the waiting room, a guy started to jump out of his chair to greet me.  Because I work in a big church, this kind of thing happens all of the time.  A lot of people know my face even if I can’t quite place them.    So, I figured this was just another guy from church. 

Once I got my daughter settled, though, I looked up and he was still staring at me.  I nodded, pretending like I knew him, and he said, “I thought you were someone else.  I know a guy who looks exactly like you, same hair cut and everything.”

“Is he a model?” I asked.  The guy shook his head. 

This wasn’t the first time this kind of thing happened.  About twice a year some stranger here in town walks up to me and says, “You look really familiar.  Have you ever been to-“ and then they name some place I’ve never been.   

So, apparently there are two extremely hot looking guys in Lexington. 

But wait, not only is there a guy who looks just like me, there’s also a guy with the same name as me.  Last month I called up Olive Garden to place a take-out order, and the conversation went something like this.

                 “Is that all, sir?” the hostess said.

                “Yep,” I answered.

                “May I have a name?”

                “Jason Byerly.”

                “The urologist?” she asked. 


                “No,” I said, “the Children’s Pastor.”

The urologist?  Why couldn’t she have said the astronaut or the stunt man?  Don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with being an urologist.  I just thought the other Jason Byerly would be a spy or an international business tycoon or something.  This left me unsettled, so I made the mistake of Googling myself, which I don’t recommend, hoping to find a Jason Byerly who is living a thrill-a-minute lifestyle. 

Instead I found one Jason Byerly who goes by the nickname “Cletus” and another with the trademarked handle “Sweet J™.”  I’m assuming he’s a DJ or a rapper but I’m afraid to click on the link.  I also found a car dealer in Ohio and a guy who has passed away.  Suddenly the urologist isn’t looking so bad.

You ever wonder if there’s a better version of yourself out there somewhere living the life you’ve always wanted?   There probably isn’t.  But there is a better version of yourself in you that has the potential to live the life you were made to live.  The Bible says that you’re God’s masterpiece, His one-of-a-kind work of art, and you were created to make a unique contribution in this world using the gifts your creator has hard-wired into your soul.   

A million other people may share your name, but no one shares your destiny.  You may have a face that’s a dead ringer for five others, but you have a heart that is unlike anyone else’s.   You are not a one-in-a-million kind of person.  You’re a one-in-a-seven billion kind of person.   

In his book, “The Me I Want to Be,” John Orberg says, “Only God knows your full potential and He’s guiding you toward the best version of yourself all the time.”  Every time I cooperate with that prompting, I take a step closer to the life I was born to live.  Every time I say yes to selflessness and to exercising the gifts I’ve been given, I become more of the me I’ve been looking for all of my life.

So evil twins of the world, watch out.  Name doppelgangers, beware.   You may look like me.  You may sign the same name to your checks.  But there is only one me who can live the life God made me to live, and each day I intend to do everything I can to become more like him.   


©Jason Byerly 2011