My eyes blink open to the wake of another morning, that time of day when we most feel the weight of “tired” wash over. I swing heavy feet out of bed and anchor them to the floor, only to rise rigid and stiff, like an iron statue standing after centuries of slumber.
I reach down for my newborn, cradle him close to my chest. Then, with sleeping legs, I step out to the room where my son is awake and loud with singing and talking and reading. It is only seven in the morning, and already, he busts at the seams with energy.
We descend, making our way downstairs, one step at a time until we reach the room of living and lounging — the place where toys are tucked away and where fun is to be had.
I’ve barely had the chance to brew or steep a cup of warmth and, already, toys spill out in tidy spaces, the crashing sounds like a crushing waterfall. It is only seven in the morning, and I am drowning in blocks and cars and things. The newborn is crying because he is hungry, and the kid is whining because he is not. And there I am yelling, telling my husband that I am ready to throw the toys away because I am hungry too — hungry for food to fill my belly and hungry for hope to hold me on days when I am tired of the toys and the mess they bring.
The truth is that I am not tired of the toys; I am tired of the toil. I am tired of the give and take of bone-deep strength. I am tired of washing up worn and weary from housework and world-work that keeps piling on, like heaps of laundry that gather and grow taller than mountains.
In my breakdown, a dawn comes breaking through, and it is the ancient truth of God whispering in the beginning, breathing calm into the world by calling forth light to push back the throw and threat of darkness. It reminds me of God in the garden, lacing land around wild waters and creating a boundary to control the dangerous deep. Yet, while God calms and controls the dark and the deep, their presence still persists — both literally and figuratively. For the world is not as it should be. It tilts and turns with a dangerous darkness and with the minds of men with free will. And, because of this, there will always be a reason to toil, to work and make this world more of what it could be (Genesis 1-2:2 NIV).
Even still, the story of creation holds out this hope for our hands: God rested, not merely after all His work was done, but He rested even while there’d be more work to do. This truth is hope for every seeking soul: Rest does not come by standing in perfected places. Rather, it comes by staring into the face of the One who shows us true rest — the One who sleeps through storms, only to then speak calm into the chaos and control wild winds with mere whispers of words (Mark 4:35-41 NIV).
Rest comes by looking to the One who came and will come again, as the true Light of the world, pushing back darkness, destruction, and death.
True rest on earth will come to you, not only when you believe in the One who is our rest but when you practice living like Him. Rest will come by pressing pause, by stilling the urge to control all that looms and lacks, all that teems with possibility, and all in need of tending care. It will come by choosing to see the light that is already pushing back the persistence of darkness. It will come by confessing that we’ve never had control, that, truthfully, we’ll never have it because we’ll never be the ones with the power to suspend galaxies and sustain life.
Rest can come, even while there is more work to do — more floors to sweep, more roots to weed, more hearts to mend, more soil to tend, more souls to save, more roads to pave, more work-filled days, more toys to tuck away.
So let your list of things messy and undone be a sign of your faith in a God who is always moving, whose list never runs dry of people and places to work in. Let the piles before you — whether tasks or toys — be proof that there really is more work to do and that God is in the midst of it. And may you practice rest in the midst of this work, trusting deeply that everything you put your hands and heart to will bring forth good in your world, in our world.