Did you know that there are 37 definitions for the word, REST, in the dictionary? Thirty-nine if you count the two additional definitions for the idioms, “at rest” and “lay to rest” and an additional four definitions if you include the noun and verb usage that imply “rest” as meaning  the remainder of something. That’s a total of 43 possible definitions for the one word, REST. Who knew?

Point being, of the 37 definitions of the primary usage of the word REST, there is one prevailing theme—tranquility and refreshment.

For instance, definition one of the noun form is “the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep.” Then there’s my personal favorite: “relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.” Now who doesn’t want that, right?

Rest has been on my mind a lot these past months—often as a cry for someone to give me a month alone on a deserted island—yet never quite so much as in the past two weeks, as I’ve struggled between the joyful chaos of a full house during the holidays and the personal immobilization of two illnesses in rapid succession—literally the bread for the sandwich of my holiday fun.

Lying in bed nursing the flu this weekend, I thought of the coming new year—the year that is now upon us. 2018. Each year for the past several, I have chosen a word to focus on. Sort of my guiding thought for that year. An area I want to grow in, learn more to be like, learn more what it means to have. I have chosen such words as joy and accept and grow and hope. The final half of 2017 has been so crazy that the thought of even thinking of a word to focus on seemed like way too much work for an already overloaded mind. And then I found myself in bed during the final week of 2017, with nothing but time. And my word for 2018 just seemed to fall in my lap. REST.

It’s what we all crave, isn’t it? Even when we aren’t sick. Refreshment, repose, tranquility? Relief from the things that weary and trouble us?

Remember, there are over 37 definitions for the word, REST. Should be plenty of food for thought for the next twelve months. Right off the top of the list, I see several definitions that have to do with shelter and support. Take definition 10, for example: “a place that provides shelter or lodging for travelers, as an inn.” Or 11, which states, “any stopping or resting place.” This is where my new word takes direct aim at my weary heart.

What is our faith for if not for that? A stopping or resting place? A place to find refreshment and repose…tranquility of soul and mind. Jesus offered this to us when He offered to carry our burdens. (Matthew 11:28) But how often do we really lean into this promise? Really?!

I know for myself I have tried way too hard over these last many months to fight the battles life has dished without leaning on His guidance and peace. Without stopping to seek His rest, His refreshment.

I am not sure what kind of year 2018 will be…I learned enough in 2017 to not try and guess the temperature of the year by the heat of my own hopes and desires (you might rightly guess that my toes are currently freezing underneath my desk as I type these references to temperature—sorry, my new home is poorly insulated). After all, I thought 2017 was going to be a stellar year. Well, it was stellar, as in brilliant, but not necessarily as a shining beacon of joy. More like a flaming meteor barreling down to explode all over my universe in a cosmic display of discord. I digress.

So what will 2018 bring? The one thing I know it will bring is more confusion and chaos in my home—while the builders try to right all the many wrongs they managed to build into one small house. That thought does not make my flu-fighting, world-weary body any less tired or rested. In fact, quite the opposite.

So REST is the word I choose for 2018. Because I know I need to constantly recenter my eyes, my heart, my focus on the One true source of rest in the crazy, chaotic, world I live in. I need to fully understand what rest is and how He provides it for me…for all of us. And most importantly, I need to fully surrender that part of myself that refuses to let go and let Him handle the stress of the cares of the world, while I get on with the day-to-day living. REST.

While the world is building castles out of sand, creating mountainous to-do lists with their New Year’s resolutions, my resolution is simple. REST. Find refreshment in the arms of Jesus. And hold tight and close to that refreshment, even during the storms that come. Because storms always come. Even when you don’t expect them. Even when the skies are clear. And rest is always needed in order to be strong enough to weather them.

And now, I’m going to sign off…and go rest. Happy 2018!

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