November 30, 2018
I drive a 2006-Toyota Innova, which I lovingly call Innobya, especially when I didn’t have a girlfriend. It’s a great car and it drives well, even after 12 years with our family. It’s actually kind of amazing how you can move around a 2,300-kilogram heap of metal for hundreds of kilometers without breaking a sweat. All this 2.3 metric tons of metal frames and parts can be moved at incredible speeds with just a turn of a key and a press of the gas pedal. I can end up in beautiful beaches or high mountains in around three hours, and not even feel tired.
Now put that in contrast with the same car when, last Sunday, it was moving slower than the DMV officer in Zootopia, and my sister and I were exerting all our effort to move its full weight just a few meters up a tiny slope of the Skyway near Bicutan.
Same car, same parts, same capabilities—the only difference was that this time, it had no gas.
Long story short, we were rescued by the Skyway patrol and a tow truck that sold us their extra diesel. We drove straight to the nearest gas station after that. How did it get to this? Isn’t gassing up such a basic thing? Looking back at it now, I had all these dumb reasons to delay it. I realize that we do the same in life.
The truth is we’re not designed to keep going while we’re running on empty. We’re designed for a healthy rhythm of work and rest. We work well to rest well, and we rest well to work well.
When I was pushing the car with my sister, it actually turned out to be a great workout. The next day, my sister and I were laughing at how sore our bodies were, but it was the good kind of post-workout soreness. Workouts must be always followed by times of rest though. When working out, the stress creates micro-tears in our muscles and it’s only in times of rest that the micro-tears get repaired resulting in stronger muscles and #solidgainz. When we don’t rest, our muscles will just keep tearing until we’re injured. We need the humility to admit that we are designed to rest. We can’t keep stretching ourselves and doing all-nighters for acads every day or every week. This is all pretty basic, but so is gassing up.
What were the excuses that kept me from gassing up? And what are the excuses we make that keep us from resting?
1) I’m too busy
One major thing that kept me from gassing up was the fact that I had one appointment after the other. I was always on the go. I just kept thinking that I didn’t want to keep people waiting, so I didn’t take the time to gas up, which is really just around 5-10 minutes.
When we don’t take control of our schedules, our schedules will take control of us. We should never let our busyness get in the way of our basics. Rest is something that needs to be calendared and protected. What we make time for shows us what we truly value, and if we valued our well-being and we live for the long-term, we will make time to rest. This covers both daily and weekly rest. Are we able to regularly carve out time for sleep? Are we able to retreat to God daily? And are we able to take a day off weekly to just let go and recover?
2) I’ll wait for the ideal
I kept waiting for “the right gas station” to come along — the one that accepts my rewards card, the one that’s cheaper than the others by a few centavos, the one that’s conveniently on the way. When you’re running on empty, the logical thing to do is to go to the first gas station you encounter. After all, “beggars can’t be choosers.”
Sometimes we try to save our rest for the ideal — the out of town vacation, the dinner out with a particular set of friends, the worship night that’s still a few weeks away. “When those things come along, I can finally rest.” The truth is our God is so gracious that even though circumstances aren’t the most ideal, we can still find rest in Him. We may not be out of town in some resort but rather, in our own bed with readings scattered around us, but God still “grants sleep to those He loves.” (Psalm 127:2, NIV) We may not be in a powerful worship night, but we can still come to God in our daily quiet time.
3) I can still go on
I didn’t gas up because I’ve been to far places on a low tank of gas before. I thought this can probably still stretch for a few kilometers. I was foolish in my positivity and I failed to gauge the limits of my own vehicle.
There were times in life where I just kept going because there was so much to do, so much I can achieve, and it seemed shameful to rest or take a break. Society ingrains in us the idea that busyness is a badge of importance. Sleep is for the weak. The people around me are putting in way more effort than I am. I need to match up to their efforts or even outdo them, or else people will think I’m lazy.
Because of the pressure to perform, I ignored the signs that told me I’m tired and I need to rest. I thought I could keep going and going and going — until I got burnt out. We need to acknowledge that we have limits and just as cars have different capacities for fuel, our limits could be different from that of other people. It’s okay if other people can work longer than you and you need to take breaks more than they do. There shouldn’t be any shame in the need to rest. You are valuable even apart from your work and what you can achieve.
As my friend Maya said, “a person’s spirit is rested and restful when they have nothing to prove.”
After the Skyway incident, I’ve learned my lesson and I learned to gas up when I’m nearing the ¼ level. I don’t even want it to reach below that because it’s actually bad for cars to constantly run on a low tank of gas. It wears down parts in the engine like the fuel pump.
In the same way, constantly stretching yourself to your limits can have long-term effects on your personal well-being and we want to avoid stuff like that. When we know our limits, we know when to say no to added commitments or invitations to go out, and we can just rest without guilt because we know we need it.
There are a million ways we can de-stress but there’s only one way we can really find true rest: We go to Jesus.
Jesus is someone we can go to without thinking of all our unfinished work and shortcomings. We can go to Him without feeling more pressure. We can go to Him and find rest and that’s exactly His invitation to all of us.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It’s possible to get a full night’s sleep and still wake up tired and stressed. Rest is a matter of the heart. It must be rooted in security, knowing that you don’t hold the world in your hands. That’s Somebody else’s job. It’s knowing that you don’t need to prove yourself. Jesus already proved your worth more than 2,000 years ago. It’s knowing that your future is secure because God promised that He has great plans for you.
We find this securing rest only in Jesus.