My daughter and I settled onto the bus for our overnight trip to New York City.
We each pulled out our books and book lights and enjoyed some reading time as we pulled away from the parking lot and headed out onto the road for our grand adventure.
About an hour into the trip, I pulled out my blanket and little travel pillow and asked my daughter to do the same. We were, after all, supposed to be sleeping on this bus and we were certainly going to need that sleep since we were hitting the streets of New York City by 6 a.m.
Only, she hadn’t brought her pillow. She’d left it back at the house.
So, I handed mine over (because I love her and I’m her mom) and tried to sleep without it.
Now, I do not sleep in moving vehicles, and this night the odds were particularly against me.
I was in a completely, wonderfully comfortable bus for daytime travel. Nevertheless, I was still mostly upright, with highway noise for my soundtrack, surrounded by 50 people, and without a pillow.
We shuffled this way and that through the night. None of us on the bus slept more than an hour or two , and even that was in fits and starts.
At 3:40 that morning, the bus lights flicked on to full strength and we pulled into the New Jersey rest stop where we were scheduled to start the day. Everyone filed out to use the bathrooms, change our clothes, brush our teeth, and buy coffee (or tea!) from the 24-hour Starbucks.
From then on, it was go, go, go. Drive around the city. Eat breakfast at the diner. Walk through Central Park. Stroll through the Museum of Art. Subway back to our bus for lunch and the ride to the hotel. Quick showers and changes. Back onto the bus for the ride to the Lincoln Center for a ballet performance.
We had the best time!
Finally, we settled back at the hotel around midnight after being awake for about 35 hours of the last 36 hours.
A bed never felt so good. The pillows were luxury and the sheets were heaven.
Normally, I hate sleeping away from home and restlessly fidget all night long.
Not that night. I slept the deep sleep of the truly exhausted.
That same weekend, I read this verse from the Psalmist:
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you (Psalm 116:7 ESV).
Return to rest.
Right there when I was pushed to the max physically, I needed to know that rest doesn’t entirely depend on circumstances.
Some seasons are stressful and full of huge crises or petty daily annoyances. Life demands so much of us–sleepless nights while we rock the baby, or work the job, or care for the loved one, or nurse the sick, or more.
Our hearts can be tumbled into pits of anxiety with one phone call, one nasty email, one ridiculous Facebook post, one bank statement or unexpected bill.
Maybe we’re running at full-speed because of blessing and not burden. We’re packing for the big move or working hard on the big project.
Rest can seem elusive until we remember the truth:
Our rest isn’t in peaceful circumstances or ideal conditions; our rest is in Jesus.
He doesn’t just bring us peace; He is our Peace.
Like the dove that Noah sent out from the ark, we can seek rest in so many places in the big wide world but never find it. The dove searched throughout the earth for a dry place to set down and only found water, water, and more water.
The bird only found rest when it returned to Noah.
The same is true for us, as well.
Charles Spurgeon wrote:
Noah’s dove found no rest outside the ark, so she returned to it. In a similar way, my soul has learned today, more fully than ever, that there is no satisfaction to be found in earthly things–only God can give rest to my spirit…they cannot fulfill the desires of my immortal spirit” (Morning and Evening, January 29th).
We may search and search, looking for rest and finding only stormy seas.
Ultimately, we truly find rest by returning not just to the ark, but to our Master. We return to Jesus.
Like the dove, we can’t face the night on our own, flapping our wings in the darkness until we’re exhausted. On our own strength, we’ll drown.
When night looms, when we’re deeply tired, when we realize that nothing else satisfies, we stop trying so hard on our own and release control into His hands. That is the rest our weary souls need—trusting Jesus because He is so trustworthy.