By Jemelene Wilson
Hawaii is a paradise. Stunning landscapes, pristine beaches where every sunset settles a thousand diamonds across the deep cobalt water. Close to shore the white foam waves crash out of turquoise pools onto beige sand.
My husband Russ and I were the only two people on the beach each morning. We wanted a front row seat as the new day greeted the marbled sky with the moon still hanging low near the horizon. We felt as though we walked through a painting that changed with each breath we took.
Those morning walks with my hand in his provided the precious quiet our souls were thirsting for. Every so often we’d drift into the tide, where cool salty water washed over our feet as we watched our toes sink into the wet sand. The outlines of our feet lasted only a moment, then they were washed away by the sea.
One particular evening, we were caught up in extra plans and became worried we might be late for the dinner shuttle that ran between two hotels. As I rushed toward the waiting van, a sweet Hawaiian beauty said, “Slow down. There is no need to rush. You’re on vacation. He won’t leave without you.”
I slowed my steps and thanked her.
We arrived at the restaurant with a few minutes to spare before sunset, and I stopped off at the lady’s room while Russ was seated. As I scurried to our table, the hostess stopped me and said, “No need to hurry. Just take your time.”
As I began to reflect on the week, it started to sink in: the fullness in my heart was coming not just from the beauty of the island itself, but from those around me who were calling me to take it all in a slowly and steadily.
What I needed was the quieting of my own breath. Slowly tasting the warm air in my lungs. Closing my eyes to better hear the songs of birds far different from the small finches of my own forested backyard.
Now, you don’t need a tropical island in order to find rest. But my time in Hawaii helped me understand the healing that takes place when we truly do find rest. Not just sleep, but rest (yes, there’s a difference). Not just physical rest, but soul rest.
Living gently means to pace ourselves in our daily lives, not just during getaways or on the weekend. It means refreshing every part of us, emotionally and spiritually as well as physically.
Matthew 11:30, as paraphrased in The Message, says it so well. Jesus exhorts us, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Serving Jesus isn’t supposed to be a frenetic endeavor.
Serving isn’t meant to fill your life so much so that there is no room for rest.
Serving Jesus is an overflow of what’s happening in you.
To serve—and live—well, we need to slow. We need to rest.
Jemelene Wilson is a passionate storyteller who writes of faith, hope, love, and food. She’s madly in love with her pastor husband and mama bear to two daughters. Grace is a fairly new concept she is exploring with her life and words. Mama Jem believes we should live gently and love passionately. You can find more of her writing at jemelene.com.