Brazilians have a new word to tell someone not to worry: Relaxe! Relax. Don’t get worked up over it. No problem. Somebody used it with me recently when I was in line at the padaria with an armful of items and a younger man urged me to go in front of him. I protested that I was fine, there was no need for me to step in front of him. “Go ahead,” he said, “Relax!” So I did.
One guy I know tends to overwork and overthink. When he remembers to do it, he tells himself to relax. Unfurrow the eyebrows. Breathe deeply. Let go. Instead of being an escape from responsibility, relaxing in this way can becoming a path to trusting God.
Spiritual relaxation isn’t an occasional nap from doing the will of God. Rather, it is a state of being as a saint, a way of living in the Lord, an easygoingness that permeates the zeal for the house of God.
Such a state is needed for people who get worked up over the tensions of life, the pains of relationships, and the challenges of faith. Pretty much includes all of us, doesn’t it?
Here are three ways to relax spiritually, involving the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The saint tells himself to:
Rest in the Lord
NASB translates Psalm 37.7a this way: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” The basic idea behind the word rest is to be quiet or still. Most modern translations give this sense of quietness or stillness. Not only does the mouth and body need to be quiet and still, but the mind often does as well.
In the Bridgeway Bible Commentary, Donald Flemming wrote on Psalm 37:
On seeing how wicked people prosper, believers may be tempted to envy them or, worse still, to doubt God’s goodness. The reminder given in this psalm is that no one should judge by outward appearances. The prosperity of worthless people will be shortlived, but the faithfulness of believers will be rewarded (1-4). Believers should therefore not be restless, impatient, or too easily angered when they see the apparent success of the wicked (5-9).
So how should we rest in the Lord?
- First, by not jumping to conclusions, almost always negative ones, based on appearances.
- Second, by trusting in the righteousness of God, who will settle all accounts in the end.
- Third, by holding to God’s goodness in the face of what might be interpreted as contrary evidence.
Live in the peace of the Spirit
Part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace, Gal 5.22-23. That peace means “fellowship in the Spirit” Phil 2.1. It is first peace with God, Rom 5.1, which brings a sense of peace within the heart, Phil 4.7; Col 3.15, and allows for peace among the saints, Eph 4.1-3, and to a large degree with all people, Rom 12.18. Paul affirms that “the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace” Rom 8.6. This outlook or mindset has the capacity to overcome any worry, fear, or conflict. It is “peace at all times and in every way” from God as “the Lord of peace” 2Thes 3.16.
In the midst of such encompassing peace, the mind can still feel conflicted. Pressures and needs weigh down the thoughts of the saint. The heart may seek solutions in the wrong places or in ways far from God, after not discovering them in the Lord. Distractions make one forget the peace that Christ has established on every side.
How to maintain this peace of God in the heart?
- First, by prayer the mind centers upon the divine fellowship that Christ’s sacrifice brought us.
- Second, we see no one as an enemy or competitor, but we view every person as a soul to be blessed, by our faith, with God’s peace.
- Third, time in the written Word brings the Holy Spirit’s life, power, and peace to embrace our entire existence.
Be content in Christ
Some people see a glass of water as half empty; others, as half full. Optimists have an easier time of it, since pessimists see what is wrong, what was done wrong, or what might go wrong. They even seen wrong where there is none.
Some saints are half-empty-glass kind of people. Such a person most often feels he is missing out on something. He notes keenly what he doesn’t have. He sometimes wonders why he’s lacking what he sees others enjoying. He’s often discovering unmet needs, wondering about slights and insults, comparing his happiness, blessings, relationships, or success with that of others.
For such insecurity and dissatisfaction, the Bible presents a wonderfully rich language of fullness in Christ, overflowing grace, and unstinting generosity from God. Jesus came into the world as the Word “full of grace and truth” Jn 1.14. He came to share this fullness. “For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another” Jn 1.16. The idea is of “gift heaped upon gift” (AMP). The Lord just keeps piling it on. Surely, there’s something in his mountain of grace that will satisfy.
Emotions twist reality out of shape. Hurts and warped thinking blind us to what God is offering us. But telling ourselves these three truths will go a long way to helping us live that spiritual relaxation he so much desires for us.