Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Intentional Rest

Intentional Rest


Back in May, I had high hopes and great plans for my summer break. No, not to travel to distant shores. Instead, my goal was to reduce my to-be-read pile of books while sitting by the pool working on my tan. In other words, to be intentional about resting.

There’s nothing like a bit of rest after a long day or a tough week . . . or so I’ve been told.

Moments of quiet rest are rare in my life. Apart from time with the Lord at the start of my morning, most of my day is filled with activity and noise. Even when I’m in the car, often the first thing I do is turn on some music. The goal of reducing my t-b-r pile is often set aside in favor of crossing items off a daily to-do list instead.

But there’s something to be said for settling into an oasis of rest where my senses are not bombarded. And summer is the perfect season to seek those times. However, this summer is more than half over, and my t-b-r pile is still fairly tall.

Clearly, I need a different approach to rest. Perhaps more of a biblical approach. What does biblical rest look like?

R – Release

Biblical rest is often misunderstood to mean sleeping or taking a break from work. But when Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV), the original word for rest in this verse refers to refreshment while we work.

Resting in the Lord doesn’t mean we ignore our circumstances or run away from them. True rest comes in releasing control of those situations to the Most High God who is greater than any problem. Besides, we’re really only releasing the illusion of control, since we were never in control to begin with!

E – Enjoy

After walking with the Lord for a lifetime, King David wrote these wise words in his old age: “Take delight in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).

Delight in the things of this world is temporary. We were created for fellowship with God. Delighting in Him will last for eternity. We are able to rest when we know the source of true enjoyment that will last forever.

S – Stay

In John 15:4, Jesus reminds us to remain in Him. Using the illustration of a grapevine, He said, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (NIV).

Some days it’s easier for me to “remain” in Jesus than others. But the grapevine illustration reminds us that branches cannot attach, break away, and re-attach themselves at will. They need the continual flow of life-giving sap to live and produce fruit. True rest comes from a commitment to stay, or remain, in Christ, regardless of what life brings.

T – Trust

One of my favorite verses is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

It’s difficult to trust someone we don’t know. That’s why I’ve been drawn to the names and attributes of God in Scripture. The more we know what God says about Himself and experience His expression of those attributes in our own life, the easier it is to trust Him. True rest flows from that trust, despite our situations.


I’m still looking forward to redeeming what’s left of the summer by sitting in my lounge chair and enjoying that stack of books. But I’m also anticipating the refreshment that comes from resting in Christ in the midst of the work He called me to do. How about you?

In what area of life is the Lord calling you to rest in Him?


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  1. Nancy E. Head

    I love your message here. God commands us to rest. We redefine rest to include entertainment rather than release, enjoy, stay, and trust that goes along with good fellowship with God. Satan works hard to convince us that being still is wasting time. Your post brings much to ponder. Thanks and God bless!

  2. Yvonne Anzolone

    I used to feel guilty about not being busy enough. Why? I was always comparing myself to others. That realization has freed me to be who and how God made me. I have a beautiful friend named Martha and I am her sister “Mary.” Jesus loved all three of his friends from Bethany. Following Him doesn’t make us copycats. It makes us unique.

  3. Melissa Henderson

    I have learned that when I pause and rest, I am more focused and able to receive any message God wants me to have. When I am rushed, I miss wonderful opportunities to share His love with others. Rest is a good thing for everyone. 🙂

  4. Jessica Brodie

    I’ve always had a hard time resting until I began to embrace it as spiritual discipline. Whether I rest in silence in nature, or rest while reading, or rest contemplating the beautiful, vast mysteries of God, being still and basking in the Lord is so important. I wish you lots of goo dreading this week!

  5. Melinda Viergever Inman

    We are instructed by God to rest at certain specific times, and yet it is often a challenge to do just that, because it’s easy to get stuck in the rat race and to not recognize the open time slots that He gives us for rest. I hope and pray that I might recognize those calls to rest and to commune with the Savior.

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    Great message especially since I am on vacation and trying to find some “intentional rest”

  7. Karen Friday

    Great acronym, Ava. And this is so good, “Resting in the Lord doesn’t mean we ignore our circumstances or run away from them. True rest comes in releasing control of those situations to the Most High God who is greater than any problem.”

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