“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” ~Etty Hilsum

Years ago I was a missionary in the field right here in the United States. In fact, that is where I met my wife, Crystal. She and I – both members of Youth With A Mission – were on a tour called The Wave USA in which we visited all 50 states in 50 weeks. Perhaps beyond the people we met, the projects we participated in, the people and missions we supported, the single most influencing time for me was the sabbath. Biblically speaking and even etymologically speaking Sabbath or a sabbath is generally a weekly day of rest and/or time of worship observed in Abrahamic religions and other practices.

As we traveled miles and miles and miles in vans and small, used, buses, partnering with a number of amazing people and groups, it never failed that once a week we observed a sabbath or a day of rest. Why?

Ask any physician and he will tell you that rest is essential for physical health. Without our mind grows dull and our body exhausted. Our body is not unlike an electric automobile in that we need to be recharged or else the miles we can go are limited. Our mind and body requires rest.

Most athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance. The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes.

Even our worlds greatest minds can agree that resting is important. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.” Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.”

In short, philosophers, scholars, authors, athletes, and spiritual belief tell us that we must rest. In order to be our best, to produce our best, to be our strongest, and to be our sharpest, we must rest. It is essential for a healthy and balanced mind, body, and soul.

But for some reason that message is lost even on those of us who promote taking a sabbath, or sorts. Today’s culture is just too busy. I remember in Doctor Who a line that went something like, “Rest is for the weary, sleep for the dead.” Doesn’t that seem to be our mentality now? Our lives are 24-7. Emails are always coming in. Our bosses require more hours from us. We commute great distance that eat into our personal time. Convenient stores and groceries never close. Fast food has late night windows. Even our banks have 24-hour ATMs; all so we never have to stop and wait. There are just too many things to get done, too many demands on us, too much responsibilities, too many bills to pay, and too much HIGH PRIORITY! In our results-driven world no one seemingly wants to waste time resting.

It seems to me that all of this comes at a cost though. For me, I have been non-stop since we launched Tiny r(E)volution. I have held a demanding day-job, spent countless hours (and more to count, even) clearing and cultivating the land we will live on, built and maintained gardens, written blog posts, contributed to magazines, traveled for work, volunteered for local projects, and the list goes on. But this week I realized that my pace was wearing me down. My words are slower to go from mind to fingers. My thoughts, disjointed. I realized that I hadn’t had a bedtime conversation with Crystal in a while. As soon as I hit the pillow I was asleep. My muscles ached with exhaustion and my hands had broken through even the callouses common these days.

My assessment is this: We are destroying every sense of our being by not observing a day of rest. Remember the tortoise and the hair? There is a reason we run faster and work harder, but only fall farther behind. Our lives are too hurried, too full, and subsequently too out of balance. Sometime between Franklin’s day at the park with a kite and a key, and now, we lost the essential practice of concentrated rest.

But today I implore you to reclaim that right. Reclaim your need to rest once a week. You will be able to work more effectively, think more clearly, and feel better about yourself!

I would be remiss not to offer a few tips I have found useful this week in reclaiming my sabbath. Allow me to share them with you.

Find contentment in where you are. Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side. Or is it? Most of the reason we can’t get adequate rest is because we are under the impression that our lives can and should be better. We are in constant overdrive to achieve a higher quality of life through the acquisition of money, power, or position – the very things that rob us of our happiness. Please, stop focusing on what you don’t have and start enjoying the things that you do.

Plan your rest. On The Wave USA we would decide each week when our sabbath would be the following week. True rest will come only from intentional planning and planning rest will come only if you truly want it. Schedule it on your calendar even. Learn to say NO to any tasks that attempt to take rob you of your rest. Plan out your day of rest by choosing activities that are refreshing, low impact, and encourage relationships. Authentic rest is different than just not working. Don’t go out and cut the grass. That isn’t resting. Don’t change the oil in your car. That isn’t resting. Instead, avoid housework. Turn off the computer altogether. Save the porch painting for another day. And DON’T answer your phone.

Claim your life. It is your life. No one else should be able to claim it from you. Make a time for resting, claim it, and be selfish with it.

Include your family. Think about instituting a day of rest for the family. Talk to them about the benefits of resting. And don’t wait. The older a child is the harder it will be to slow them down. We owe it to our children to show them the way off the hamster wheel.

Live within your income. A debtor is a slave to his creditor. If you can’t find peace of mind because of mounting debt then perhaps it is time to reassess your families financial situation. Don’t overspend just to acquire. Live within your means so that you can enjoy every minute you aren’t at work.

Buck the system. If you live in a results-oriented culture – as we do – where productivity is the guiding light then rest is counter-cultural. To some reading right now, rest may even be seen as a sign of weakness by others. That view of humanity’s role in this world is shallow at best. It is true that many of the benefits from concentrated rest are not tangible. But who here believes anything worth anything can be counted?

What about you? Do you rest? Do you observe a weekly time of sabbath? What do you do on this time off? If you aren’t practicing a day of rest now will you be considering it in the near future? If you know someone who could benefit by hearing ways to slow down and live, Tweet them this link or Share it on Facebook by using the social icons below.