The three Rs of school are reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. Last week, I retired after 35 years of teaching. It’s time for me to replace those Rs of school life with different words. Words that I pray will help make me more content, less stressed. Focused on all God has planned and prepared for me. My new R words? Rest. Relax. Renew.
Probably the hardest R for me will be rest. Even when I’m not working, there’s a tension in my shoulders. A need to be doing s o m e t h i n g. To have a purpose. A plan. Keep busy. Be productive.
God calls me to rest. To be still. Jesus often left the noisy throng of people he ministered to and went alone to pray. When his disciples became to busy to even eat, he pulled them aside so they could rest.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place, and get some rest.”
Rest doesn’t mean sitting and doing nothing. Thankfully, since I’m not very good at that. It calls me to pull away from the every day, the challenges, the noise. Rest brings me into the presence of God.
- Time in His Word, both studying and meditating. Thinking about what He says to me and how to apply it to my life.
- Prayer. Talking to God, pouring out my heart. And listening to what He says to me.
- Gift and prayer walks. Leaving the four walls of my office and venturing into the beautiful world He created. Taking note of all the gifts He gives. Gratefully acknowledging Who He is and how much He does for me.
I used to think resting and relaxing were the same. But relaxing is more about me. Doing things I enjoy. To rest, I need to pull away from the world and its distractions, but I relax right where I am.
Personally, I don’t relax well unless the house is neat and tidy, but I can relax in between loads of laundry or while I get up and down to move the hose and water the jasmine along the back fence. One of my favorite ways to relax includes sitting on the patio with a glass of iced tea and a good book, watching the birds and the train that meanders its way across the horizon. I love to relax with people I love over a leisurely lunch or coffee dates. When I can’t see people face-to-face, I connect over Facebook or Instagram. Once in a while, I may even fit in a nap.
Through rest and relaxation, I can put into practice the lessons God has for me. I read books that encourage me in my Christian life. I can’t wait to read through the stack of books I’ve collected over the last couple of years, always telling myself I’d get to them. That time is here!
I renew my commitment to God’s Kingdom as I serve Him. For several years, I facilitated a GriefShare group at my church, led small groups, and visited the sick and shut-in. As we prepare to move, I’m handing over those ministries to others and praying about being open to God’s leading in my new church.
It is always a challenge for me to wait for God. I want to jump in with both feet. But, as God has renewed and transformed my heart and mind in the past, I must exercise patience. Getting to know my new city. My new church. And letting them get to know me. Letting God, and His leaders, guide me instead of assuming the old and familiar are the right places for me, or if He’ll lead me to new. Growth and change are part of renewal.
Rest, Relax, and Renew
My journey into retirement just started. I’m not even used to the idea yet, but I hope you’ll join me as I learn where rest, relax, and renew leads me. I’m pretty sure retirement will be wonderful, exciting, and filled with new things.