Getting neutral is a weird way to talk about rest. I mean, what does “getting neutral” even mean? Well, if we look at the term neutral within the context of a car then it means being in a state in which you won’t be going forward or backward. When a vehicle with a standard transmission is in neutral it means that the car isn’t engaged in either a forward propelling gear or reverse. It’s just sitting, waiting for a driver to set it into motion one way or the other.
Most of us have a hard time being in neutral. It feels wrong. “I can’t take too much time to sit still, then I wont be getting anything done." Much of this mentality comes from our jobs. There always seems to be this low-simmering heat that drives us to steer clear of “resting on our laurels” for too long. Basically it’s the idea that if we aren’t geared towards a goal and actively heading towards it that we are failing to some degree.
True, biblically defined rest is very different from this.
Genesis 2:1-3 reads like this, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And 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.”
There are two massive realities hidden in this scripture that can help us get a handle on what God’s idea of rest is all about. First, God worked. Second, God rested.
Welp, that’s it I guess, right? Well, kinda.
The fact that Moses writes that “God rested” tells us that God also worked. I know this might seem obvious but it’s very important. The fact that God worked means that we, who are made in His image, are also made to work. The issue here lies in the fact that, now, due to sin, we must toil in work by the sweat of our brow. That sucks. It sucks for a few reasons but it mainly sucks because it points directly to the fact that God’s first intention with work was that it would be pleasurable. Work is not a job. It’s not a nine-to-five that drains your passions and stifles your creativity. Work is co-laboring with God in His creation, in His garden, subduing and ruling over the majesty, beauty, and wildness of the earth. Sadly, words like “laboring” and “work” have been hijacked by sin and made out to be the bane of man’s existence. In reality we are meant to be co-engineers, co-architects, co-landscape professionals, co-arborists, co-painters, and co-writers in God's work; the work of Creation.
All this leads to getting neutral? Yeah, it does. Buckle up, because here we go.
Rest, then, in God's Kingdom, is the natural response to work. God our Father shows us this again and again, day-after-day by revealing to us that he rested after every day of work. So what does this mean for us and how can we connect it with the idea of getting neutral?
In terms of rest, what I mean by saying that we need to "get neutral" comes from a book entitled Sacred Pace by Terry Looper. In it Looper describes "getting neutral" as the most fruitful way of stopping to hear God's voice on everything in our lives. But to get to a place where we can hear clearly and for long enough we've got to have a better grasp on rest. Rest is, in my own words, the way in which each of us uniquely quiets our inner-selves so as to make space for the Spirit of God to communicate with us. Simple, right?
So how do we actually do this during the Summer season?
Yeah, pray. In this intance the term "pray" should be viewed as a yield sign. It's a posture and an obedience that allowes us to offer ourselves to God and His will for our time.
2. Make time
Find it. It's there. You might have to buckle-down and get up at 5am but the time is there. This is where we will he uninterupted time to hear from and listen to God's voice. No kids. No phone. No Netflix. Just Him.
3. Read & Write
Being in God's Word is a BIG part of "getting neutral." It is how we take what we are hearing and solidify it as God's voice and direction. And writing, well, writing is how we mark the trail of our faith and hoe God has lead us from one point to the next. It's a way of remembering. I think God calls us to be a remembering people.
This Summer season let us be a people that prayerfully enter into moments and seasons of neutral where we can hear God clearly. In this we will be able to quiet the world around us and listen for that still, small voice that leads us towareds love, peace, and rest.