JUNE 28, 2023

Dear Friends,

I sat across the table from Pastor Tommy Nelson who has for years served as the Pastor at Denton Bible Church as he told me about the day his body shut down.

He was still breathing. He could still see and hear everything that was happening around him. He simply couldn’t respond. Couldn’t move. When his wife spoke to him, he could hear her questions just fine. And he had answers. But his mouth wouldn’t work.

All signs pointed to a stroke. But at the hospital, the doctors told him they couldn’t find any indication of a stroke. In fact, all the tests they ran indicated Tommy was fine.

That’s when one of his doctors gave him a diagnosis that stunned him. “You’re depressed,” he told the pastor.

“There’s no way!” Tommy thought to himself. “I love what I do!” And Tommy had the schedule to prove it.

“I would run four miles a day,” he told me, “lift weights every day—plus everything else I did just out of pure love—I loved what I was doing. I’d go to bed—I’d crash at about 10:00 or 10:30. Then, I was always up at 5—never would I sleep past 5. Usually, I’d get up about 4 because I was excited about that day. At 6:00, I got to handle the Word with 40 top guys in our church. I would teach them until 7:00. Then, I would usually go and answer emails. Then, I’d work out; and then, I’d come back and usually take a nap in the afternoon.”

“Weekends were always busy. Often, I’d lead a weekend conference somewhere. Head off on a Friday—speak three times Friday night, three times Saturday morning. Come back home, preach four times on Sunday and get up and start all over again on Monday at 6 a.m. I loved it. Just the idea of the gospel—being expended for the gospel was wonderful.”

Until it wasn’t. Until one Sunday afternoon, his body said “we’re done.” As the doctor who diagnosed him with depression explained it, Tommy had been over-taxing his adrenal glands, and they finally quit working. As he said “I never thought someone could get depressed doing something they loved.”

Tommy’s recovery from his breakdown took six months. During that time, Tommy had to come to grips with the fact that he had been ignoring the command of God to rest. He thought he only needed to rest when he was too tired to keep going. But that’s not the pattern that God has designed for us. When, after six days of creation, God rested on the seventh day, it wasn’t because He was worn out. He was establishing a rhythm for us to follow. It is by His design that our bodies need sleep each day. And it is by His design that our souls need rest as well.

I think I must share some of Tommy Nelson’s DNA. I’m not up at 4:00 in the morning, like he used to be. But give me the choice between working and resting and I’ll usually choose to work – my mind, if not my body. I have to tell myself it’s time to rest. And I have to remind myself that even Jesus rested. Just who do I think I am?

For the next eight weeks, I’ll be resting. Purposefully. Intentionally. I won’t be inactive. In fact, I’ll likely be getting up earlier than normal, hiking more than normal, and crowding a fair amount of activity into my time of rest. But the biblical pattern for rest isn’t a call to a long time with nothing to do. It’s a call to set aside the regular rhythms of life, the priorities that weigh on each of us, for a day or for a season. To let our souls rest. I’m looking forward to that.

I’ve heard our culture described as a “hurry culture.” I know people who brag about the fact that they never take their full allotment of vacation time, thinking that pattern shows they are more focused or committed or dedicated to their work. What it really shows is their failure to recognize the restorative benefits of rest. I’ve been that person.

If you read this and find yourself thinking “I wish I could find time to rest, but…” I’d say it’s time to ask yourself which of the demands on your time could be extinguished. Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung says “When thinking about busyness, people talk as if hard work is the problem. But we’re not actually in danger of working too hard. We simply work hard at things in the wrong proportions. If you work eighty hours a week and never see your kids and never talk to your wife, people may call you a workaholic. And no doubt you’re putting a lot of effort into your career. But you may not be working very hard at being a dad or being a husband or being a man after God’s own heart.” In the end, it’s the proportion that is the issue.

“We all know we need rest from work,” Kevin says, “but we don’t realize we have to work hard just to rest. We have to plan for breaks. We have to schedule time to be unscheduled. That’s the way life is for most of us. Scattered, frantic, boundary-less busyness comes naturally. The rhythms of work and rest require planning.”

Do you have plans to rest anytime soon? Do you need to build some new rhythms of rest in your life? If you’re not sure, maybe ask your spouse or a close friend, someone who knows your schedule. Tell them to be honest with you.

“On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3).

Take time to rest. For God’s sake. And yours.

On behalf of our children and their parents, thanks so much to all of you who have agreed to be part of our AWANA program again this fall. You have no idea the impact you’re having in helping to shape the lives and hearts of these children!

And if you’re not yet part of the AWANA team, we can always use more helpers on Wednesday nights from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. The work isn’t complicated. It’s mostly about loving kids!

If you’re curious about helping, contact Laura White and let her know. She would love to get a text (501 517-5799) or an email (laurawhite811@gmail.com)from you!

If you’re a young adult and you haven’t yet checked out the NxtGen meetings on Tuesday night, mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 11.

Contact Pat Howell with any questions.

Two water related events coming up next month. First, it’s the Crowder concert at Magic Springs.

Our students are making plans to go. And you’re welcome to tag along. Click here for details and to register now.

And then two nights later, we’ll be splashing around and enjoying pizza together at our end of July pool party!

Please continue to pray for our students and the others who have joined them in Memphis this week for the Street Reach outreach. Look for a full update on Sunday morning.

And by the way, thanks to everyone for your generous support of the trip to Memphis at our Spaghetti Dinner last Sunday!

We begin a new sermon series this week exploring what it looks like for followers of Jesus to walk by faith. Each week we’ll see how men and women in the Old Testament modeled what faithful living should look like. But we begin by clarifying exactly what the Bible has in mind when it calls us to be guided by our faith and not by sight.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

Explore the Library