Doctors tell us at least 30-minutes of exercise a day can keep cardiovascular disease away. Dieticians urge us to eat plenty of salmon, walnuts and berries to ward off heart disease as well. The prescription for treating the greatest muscle in our body seems simple with the onus on us to do our part. But what about the remedy for a heart that has weathered many storms?
A good friend often says, “I’ve got a grown woman’s heart. It’s been duct-taped, super-glued, rubber-banded, paper-clipped and stapled.”
Her wit and candor about relationship trials always solicit some good laughter. In all seriousness, what she means is: great effort has gone into mending her heart after enduring the challenges life presents to all of us. With all that tremendous effort to keep the fight, stay in the race, and bounce back, it’s no wonder the simplest remedy of all barely gets a mention. What about rest? Specifically, heart rest?
If we’re honest, we know when God (and our body) is telling us to take a timeout. After a hard cardio workout, a cool-down phase is recommended. Why shouldn’t the emotional center of our life receive the same? After all, the heart influences our judgment. It dictates the words that come out of our mouths. It can make us brave or make us shrink back. It can lead us to love or away from it. And yet, granting ourselves a season of rest seems to be the last item on our long list of heart’s desires. In the quest to fulfill personal goals or to please others, we can give our heart’s energy to the wrong people and the wrong circumstances at the wrong time. We’re pouring out instead of pouring in. Research shows emotional stress and fatigue can wreak havoc on the physical. The Book of Proverbs issues a simple yet profound warning:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
The text makes no exceptions. Everything we do is under the influence of our greatest resource. Other translations call it the wellspring of life. Like water, it is a precious life-giving necessity. Don’t let it run dry. We must be mindful of whom, what and how much we serve at our well because everything flows from it. Should we choose to, we can share our greatest resource with another or give it to a worthy cause. But, we must choose wisely. Sometimes the wisest choice is to simply rest.