Wait for it.
I’m not just talking about summer.
Not counting today, there are three days left in the school year (in my county, anyway). The last two weeks are a non-stop bustle of activities, final review, exams, award banquets, teacher luncheons, meetings, and an endless list of things to do.
For graduating seniors, the excitement buzz is at an all-time peak. This month has been packed with senior trip, early release from school, class parties, pictures, special luncheons, all culminating with the graduation ceremony itself. It’s one long month of celebration.
And it’s about to end. No more parties. The balloons will deflate. The flowers will fade. The pictures in the yearbook will become part of “history.” Suddenly, life feels quiet, and the calendar looks empty.
This “aftermath” is something graduates experience. It’s something we all feel at one point or another after a major life event or achievement – and we’re left wondering what’s next.
I’ve felt it many times in my life. I call it the letdown. It sometimes feels like a valley, because of the sense of emptiness, but in reality, it can be a wonderful blessing. It depends on our perspective. Our Guidebook for life, the Bible, provides two relatable characters to help us understand the balance needed between activity and rest.
Perspective #1: The Doldrums
Seafarers used to dread the doldrums where the sea became still and the winds turned fickle or ceased altogether. These areas could trap sail-dependent vessels for weeks, causing major delays and loss of time and profit.
To some graduates (and people in general), the lull after all the excitement feels like the doldrums. They desperately try to fill up the calendar with more activities to stem the tide of anxiety. They suddenly find themselves with unfilled time on their hands and begin to worry about that summer job and the unknowns of moving away to college.
If Martha from the New Testament had been a sailor, I think she would have dreaded the doldrums. Her whole life revolved around being productive, useful – and in control. She lived with her brother Lazarus and sister Mary in the town of Bethany (Luke 11), and when Jesus came to town, she took charge.
All she saw was the work to be done – never the opportunities to step away from it, rest and learn. She considered rest to be laziness, and naturally, she resented the quiet tendencies in her sister Mary. She would tell Jesus about it!
When she did, Jesus gently rebuked her.
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42, NKJV).
Like Martha, sometimes we need to learn that a breather, aka “the letdown,” is okay. It gives us the quiet we need to listen and learn what God has next for us.
Perspective #2: A Seaside Paradise
Just close your eyes, and imagine yourself on a lounge chair next to a plump umbrella. All you can hear is the rhythm of waves sloshing on the sand. Tense muscles turn to mush as the warm sun seeps into your tired body.
Um, yes, please!
Let’s debunk the notion that rest means inactivity and a waste of time. Keep in mind that rest and idleness (laziness) are two different things.
Rest provides time for reflection and refocusing. It gives us a chance to ask questions like:
- What is important, and what’s not?
- What are my priorities, and how do I best go about achieving them?
- What “things” and “activities” do I need to cut, and which ones should I keep?
- How’s my relationship with God? Have I been neglecting Him in all the busyness?
- What are my goals in life? Have I talked to God about them? What steps do I need to begin taking to achieve them?
These are questions we don’t have time to think about when our heads are spinning.
Unlike her sister Martha, Mary sought out moments of rest and quiet. Her main chores were done, and there was no reason she couldn’t take a short break and sit at her Master’s feet.
She chose the “good part,” according to Jesus.
Whoa, wait right there! Rest – even the letdown from all the fun and excitement – might just be the “good part”?
Yes, it just might be. Listen to what Psalm 30:15-16 says:
For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not…
Don’t resist rest and the quiet that comes after the music fades. If you do, you’ll miss out on discovering renewed strength, which you’ll need for the next chapter life has in store.