Word Up Wednesday: Rest Stops / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in June 2015. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverndmotherrunner.com.

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
— Exodus 33:14

As a child, I spent my summers with my maternal grandmother in Kinston, North Carolina. Sometimes, my older sister and I would fly to Kinston, but most often, my parents would pack us in the car and drive 550 miles to North Carolina. My favorite part of this 10 hour drive was stop-ping at rest stops along the way. Our first stop would always be in South Jersey on the Turnpike. No matter the stop, the routine was always the same. We’d all go to the restroom. After the restroom, we’d go to one of the fast food restaurants for food. After eating, we’d go to the convenience store at the rest stop. I would plead to my mother for a state tee shirt or keychain with my name on it, and inevitably walk out with some cookies or potato chips for the car ride. While we were in the convenience store, my dad would be filling up the gas tank. Before getting back in the car, we’d walk around outside, stretching our legs for the miles ahead. I always looked forward to our time at rest stops. Rest stops are places for relief. Rest stops are places for refreshment. Rest stops are places for refueling. Rest stops are places for relaxation.

image taken from https://www.gobytrucknews.com/iowa-dot-close-rest-stop/123

image taken from https://www.gobytrucknews.com/iowa-dot-close-rest-stop/123

Two weeks ago, I traveled by car to and from Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. On the way, we passed several rest stops. Passing rest stops was an ordinary part of road trips. What was peculiar, was that as we approached each rest stop along the highway, there was a sign that alerted drivers the distance to the next rest stop. I’ve seen signs 5 miles and 2 miles and 1 mile before a rest stop, but I’d never seen a sign before a rest stop that indicated the distance to the following rest stop. With each sign that passed, my interest was piqued. Why would a driver, approaching one rest stop, need to know when the next rest stop is? Perhaps the driver was low and gas and the next rest stop was too far to travel. Perhaps the passengers weren’t quite hungry and could wait until the next rest stop to eat. Knowing the next opportunity for relief and refreshment and refueling gives the driver the ability to make an informed decision on whether to keep going or stop.

As I reflected on these rest stops, it dawned on me that rest stops are vital to our lives. And very often, in order to get adequate time for renewal and refreshment and refueling, some planning is involved. Relief cannot be left to chance; We risk imploding. Refreshment cannot be left to chance; We risk being famished and malnourished. Refueling cannot be left to chance; We risk running out of gas. Relaxation cannot be left to chance; We risk becoming rigid.

Dear Readers, I invite you to be mindful of the approaching opportunities for rest and pause when you are in need of emotional, spiritual, and physical rest.

Let us pray…

God of Comfort, we are grateful for opportunities to rest. Grant us wisdom to be still and rest when our bodies, minds, and spirits are in need of a pause. Refresh and renew us, we pray, for the work that you have for us to do. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.