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Embracing the Gift of Rest

Arthur Gonçalves

Apr 30, 2024

A Letter to the Church

Hello, Dear Church Family, 

Thank you for allowing me and my family to take a much-needed rest. This past week, we created special memories that will last a lifetime. Jessica and I had the opportunity to spend time alone, thanks to a very generous brother in Christ. During our time away, we reflected on our marriage and spiritual journeys, which are deeply interconnected. We laughed, cried, prayed, and truly rested. I specifically want to thank the Melnicks and the Finlays for looking after our children, enabling this precious time for Jessica and me. We deeply appreciate how our Church family loves, cares for, and serves us!

During our time away, Jessica and I reflected on how well we rest from our labors, and unfortunately, we realized we haven't been doing it well. Looking back over our 16 years of marriage, which we celebrate on May 10th, we recognized an unhealthy pattern: we haven't taken adequate time to rest as a couple. Between serving in the Church, raising children, and managing life's demands, it became clear that we haven't truly rested in over 16 years. This is primarily due to our lack of healthy rest habits.

Did you know that failing to rest dishonors the Lord? When we fail to rest from our work, we inadvertently communicate that God needs us, even though we would never explicitly say this. However, by taking time to rest, we make a powerful statement to the world and, most importantly, to the Lord—that we depend on Him! Resting acknowledges our need for God's sustenance and His renewal of our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energies. Additionally, not resting implies that we believe we have infinite strength. Yet, seeking the Lord's strength isn't about pushing through without rest; often, we ask God for the strength to continue, but that approach may not align with His intentions.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; 

they shall mount up with wings like eagles; 

they shall run and not be weary; 

they shall walk and not faint. 

 - Isaiah 40:31.


Those who wait and rest in the Lord will have their strength renewed. With this renewed strength, Christians can navigate life's challenges without growing weary and walk through difficulties without faltering.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he RESTED on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God RESTED from all his work that he had done in creation.”

-Genesis 2:1–3.

In His infinite wisdom and love, God provided the blueprint for all creation in Genesis 1-2. By closely following these chapters, we find the foundation for human flourishing, which is deeply intertwined with resting in God. Genesis 2:1-3 specifically emphasizes the importance of rest, teaching us that failing to rest goes against God's design. Indeed, our most profound act of worship involves resting in Him. As Christians, while we are known for many things, our ability to rest in Christ should stand out prominently. Resting from our work not only honors God but also profoundly influences those around us. Embracing a daily, monthly, and yearly rhythm of scheduled rest could be the most counter-cultural and impactful practice we adopt.

What happens when we don’t rest in God? We are human, not machines, and we cannot function continuously like energizer bunnies, no matter how much society or the Church might celebrate ceaseless activity. When we fail to rest—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually—by disconnecting from all but God, we break down. A few months ago, I experienced this collapse; I felt like nothing inside me was functioning properly, and I couldn't pinpoint the issue. However, I sensed a desperate need for rest in my mind, emotions, body, and soul. After extensive counseling and discussions with our Church family, it became clear I was not resting enough. A telling sign of insufficient rest is confusion, fatigue, and difficulty identifying exactly what is wrong. Regular rest is essential to maintain clarity and prevent burnout.

What happens when you do rest in the Lord? When you rest in the Lord, you think clearly and become more attuned to your body and emotions. Spiritually, you gain clarity about your sins and the desire to follow Christ closely. This state of rest enhances your ability to perceive the world with heightened senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling more acutely. Rest increases your capacity to empathize and care for others, providing the energy needed to fulfill your Christian duties towards the Church and the world. Without rest, we cannot serve or love in a way that honors God. True rest is essential for living as Christ intended.

12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here

-Exodus 33:12–15.

What does true rest for our souls signify? It tells us that God's presence is with us. Where God's presence rests, there you find a people at rest. I hope we can be as bold as Moses and declare to God, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here." True rest is found only in God's presence. Without actively seeking His presence, we cannot find rest. This pursuit of rest is essentially a pursuit of God's presence. As you read this, I encourage you to ask yourself: Am I seeking God’s presence? Am I resting in the Lord? It's crucial to distinguish between merely doing for the Lord and truly resting in Him by seeking His presence. In God's presence, there is complete joy, abundant pleasures, deep peace, and plentiful rest. Jesus teaches us that true rest is found only in Him, saying, "For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8). Jesus is the Lord of rest. Come and find rest in the Lord who reigns over the rest of your soul!

I have listed a few rhythms of rest for you to practice that I’m looking forward to implementing myself:


The “how” is learning to retrain our way of thinking and recognizing the need our bodies and minds have for rest. Confessing our need for rest, our need to unplug, to recharge and reconnect with God, with ourselves, with our families and with nature is vital to becoming whole. This practice begins with asking five key questions:

Physical Rest: What does rest for my body mean?

  • Sleeping a full 8 hours on the weekend or taking a nap

  • Taking a break from work

  • Eating a snack or a meal

  • Working out, walking, hiking, running, biking, lifting weights, kayaking, etc.

Soul Rest: What does rest for my soul mean?

  • Get alone with God in prayer.

  • Turn on worship music and worship Him through song. 

  • Read a small portion of Scripture that you can hide in your heart for that day.

  • Taking a walk by yourself or with a person of peace in your life

  • Sitting and being fully present to a loved one for 20 minutes as you chat about something true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise

  • Music, art, books, theatre, and movies that lift your soul

Mental Rest: What does rest for my mind mean?

  • Unplugging from technology

  • Abstinence from draining tasks like taxes, checkbooks, errands, or intellectual activities that you don’t enjoy.

  • Activities that do not require decision-making 

Emotional Rest: What does rest for my emotions mean?

  • Participate in activities that make you laugh. 

  • Have open and honest conversations with your spouse or someone you trust. 

  • Spend time unplugged in nature: Walks in the forest, relaxing at the beach, canoeing or kayaking on the river. 

Rhythms of Rest: What is a good rhythm of rest that incorporates all four types of rest daily, weekly, or monthly?

(Source for a few of these rhythms)

Dear Church family, I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can all grow together in finding true rest. We need the Lord, and we need each other. May the Lord restore our ability to rest in Him in this season. I love you dearly.

In Christ, 


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