What is rest?

Josh and Beth Paulick on April 13, 2021

What is rest? I (Josh) used to think of rest as not doing anything or just sleeping. Then a world wide pandemic hits and while I have been in a country with very few restrictions I see that many of my friends in the US, France, and other countries around the world do not feel rested from being stuck at home doing “nothing” for months. They are tired of it. Then what is rest?

I hear at least once a week if not more some version of “I”m going to go home and tell everyone I know to come here!” Another happy patient. The emotions and thoughts that go through my head are mixed when I hear this. Part of me is glad to have a patient with a good result and to have a good testimony representing our Lord. Part of me wants to scream “NOOOOO, don’t tell anyone!” The first time this feeling hit me I felt ashamed of it. After some time I realized that it shed light on something in the Gospels that I never understood before. I have read and journaled several times about not understanding verses like Mark 7:36, Luke 5:14 and 8:56. In each of these passages Jesus heals someone and then orders them to not tell anyone. He is the Christ, the salvation of the world, why wouldn’t he want everyone to know his power and see his glory. Was it just because it wasn’t time yet? Maybe. Is it because he wants those that follow him to follow him in faith? Maybe. Is it because he is fully human just as much as he is fully God and he wants rest? Maybe. Is it because he wanted to focus his ministry on a few? Maybe.

It is these last two that have really impressed on me. During his earthly ministry we see large crowds following Jesus wherever he went. They wanted to be fed, they wanted to be healed, they always wanted something from him, with a few exceptions noted. However, He found time apart. He sought the quiet places to rest. He made time to spend with the 12, he even made time to spend with the inner circle of Peter, James and John. If all of his ministry was with the crowds he would not have had time to invest in the 12, he would not have had time to invest in the 3. It’s not all the crowds that he used to change the world, it was the 12. I think maybe the lesson here is that the greatest impact comes with the depth that the lives we touch are touched not with a million lives touched superficially. I’ve had it pointed out to me before that Jesus had the crowds, then there were 70, then there were the 12, and then the 3 and then the disciple that he loved and I like the illustration that shows concentric circles and Jesus spent more and more time with those closer to the center of the circle.

 

At the Hospital of Hope there are crowds. In the surgical clinic we have days where over 70 patients show up to be seen. In the medical clinic at times we have wait times that go longer than a week. It is comparing apples and oranges a little, but to compare the hospital where I worked in the states, on a regular basis we do more cases here in a month than all 4 surgeons combined would do in my practice in the states in an average month. We have never had more than 3 surgeons here at any given time and for 6 of our first 12 months here it was either 1 (me alone) or 2 surgeons here.
We at the end of a 2 week vacation that we have taken. I no longer feel shame in the thought of not wanting people to go home and tell all their family and friends to come to our hospital. After all, Jesus told many of those that he healed to not tell anyone. Much of our first year here was spent working with the large crowds superficially. Now we are working to figure out how to find rest and how to invest more deeply in the few. During this stage of life our inner circle that we want to invest deeply in is our children. I would like the guys that work in the OR to be like my 12 (some are believers and some are not).

 

What is rest? I don’t know that I have a good answer. I have at least 2 or 3 books on the subject that maybe I’ll get a chance to read sometime. I can just give a few of my reflections on the question of what is rest. As I think about the times I have felt rested and that I have seen others feel rested, I think maybe the answer is going to be a little different for each of us. In general I wonder if it is in the peace, the peace with God, that we experience either while doing something we love or just after doing something we love. For example, I can go on a hike away from all civilization and feel recharged, even though there is significant physical exertion involved. My wife, on the other hand, can feel rested sitting with a cold diet coke and a good book on the beach with the sounds of the ocean filling her ears. In either case I’m not sure either of us would find it truly restful if we were not at peace with God and with each other. After all, God created the world, he created man in his image, he saw that it was good and then rested, maybe a key component of rest is in the actions around it.

All that to say, this is still a learning process and we are trying to navigate through what rest really looks like.  As for life here now, we are in a 2 week stretch of “vacation” time that is coming to an end.  We were able to go to Lomé for a few days of our time and enjoy some time with the kids playing in the waves on the beach.  On our way back to Mango, we were able to stop and visit the team at the southern hospital, visiting some friends, as well as spending a night in Kara with some friends there as well.  We returned to Mango the day before Easter and were able to enjoy an Easter service together as a team, where the kids were able to perform a song.  This last week has been spent at our house trying to prepare it for furlough and getting caught up on life in Mango, things that have been hard to get done with Josh working.

aquaphonics Visiting the Blind Center in Kpalimé
IsaiahKpalime Isaiah checking out the fishes with "Aunt" Hannah who was showing us around the aquaphonics!
OwenMommyKpalime Owen and Mommy

In the coming weeks we will be preparing to go back to the states for a few months. We would normally be on the same furlough schedule as one of the other surgeons here and so to avoid both of us leaving for a full year at the same time we are going to take a short 3 month furlough and then come back to Mango for 2 more years before taking our longer furlough. As we get our schedule of church visits solidified we will send out our schedule. We look forward to seeing many of you, and we also look forward to some time of rest.  The kids are finishing up their last few weeks of school and towards the end of April will be involved in a “wax museum” as part of their school.  They all get to choose someone to dress up as and have to be able to talk about the person (as if they are the person).  They are both looking forward to that a lot.  We’ll update more about who they’ve chosen in our next prayer letter!

We have asked for prayer for the water situation here in Mango.  Although it is not completely resolved, it is much improved.  One of the pumps broke and the hospital compound is one of the last on the water line to get water.  We are so thankful though for our maintenance team who have been running to the pump station in order to fill a tank to bring water back to the compound.  We also have been getting some water in during the nights.  Please continue to pray that we would get rain (we haven’t had any since October) and that the water pump would be fixed soon.  Also, that the water pump being fixed would help us to be able to keep up with the water the hospital needs.  

Ramadan starts this week and it is a time when our Muslim friends fast during the daylight hours.  This is extra challenging for them during hot season as they are to refrain from everything from sunup to sundown (including water).  Please pray that we would have opportunities to minister to them during this time, as it is a time that sometimes they can be more open to hearing about God’s word, especially as some follow the ritual, but don’t even know why they do it.  

Prayer and Praise:
1.)  Praise that we were able to have a good vacation with a break away from things.
2.)  Please pray that would be able to figure out how to break away from the crowds to find rest on a regular basis.
3.)  Praise that the Lord has sustained us while we haven’t had much water.  He has provided people to run and get water, and for the hospital to have enough during this time as well.  
4.)  Please continue pray for the water situation in Mango.
5.)  Please pray for Ramadan and for opportunities to share with those Josh works with and we know in the community.