When Your Soul Cries out for Rest


The smell of the buttered-rum candle floats through the air. On my couch, the oversized pillows prop me sideways while the light tan throw and a plethora of books cover me.

Gnarled leaves hold tight to the proud branches of the heroic oak tree standing outside my living room window. The stark winter landscape had long replaced the glory of the autumn foliage in the woods bordering my home. The leathery oak, a barren reflection of its once imposing stature, seemingly lifeless.

Lifeless. Much like I was feeling, watching the days pass as I battled to regain my health.

It was a mere two months before; in this same spot I’d watched the falling leaves dot the sky. The flittering brushstrokes of citrus orange and cranberry red had moved my thoughts to hot cocoa, watering  my hopes that I would return to normal.

But fall was now winter, and the cocoa on the table didn’t hold the news I’d hoped for.

The oak mocked me. For all her scars, for all her perceived lifelessness, she had seen it coming—she was prepared in advance and today she stood strong under the simple knowing that her leaves would once again rustle in the wind.

It was a natural process, the beautiful but long summer days that had drained the oak and those intentional days following that she spent preparing for the inevitable winter day of parchedness—the one where water was scarce and the elements brutal but where the oak would draw from her stored reserves.

Stored reserves. If only I had some.  If only I could stop clingly tightly to my gnarledness.

Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.

It was here He met me, Jesus with his scandalous invitation, one that made my heart beat faster at the mere thought of walking away from the lie of the daily routine, the lie that said I couldn’t stop, couldn’t rest, couldn’t exhale.

I imagine you’ve felt it too? That longing for rest deep in your soul? Can we really move beyond surviving into the fullness of rest?

We can.  I am. And I, along with Bonnie Gray, invite you to join us. And it might not look exactly like you’ve thought.

Finding spiritual whitespace isn’t about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us. It’s the opposite. It’s getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden pieces — in order to nurture our soul.
~Bonnie Gray

I’m writing today alongside a group of beautiful kindred spirits, those of us desperate for the very thing we somehow run the hardest from are journaling the journey with Bonnie’s 21 Days of Rest. {Join us?}. Bonnie has beautifully corralled our longings into something she calls spiritual whitespace, and her passionate and poetic words made it into a book that releases today, finding spiritual whitespace: awakening your soul to rest. 

I’ve carried this book heart-close these last two weeks, lingering over Bonnie’s breathtakingly honest words. She gets it, how when hope runs thin, it’s harder to fathom that greater things wait, hard to believe that God is still guiding, directing, calling us to rest.  She shares authentic, how it was her brokenness that drew her into the gentle leading of Jesus, to this new place of rest. And in that authentic sharing, she extends an invitation that pierces the heart.

It’s time to restore our souls—to care for what’s tender, what’s broken, and what’s fragile. As we do, like leaves turning crimson and golden, falling fresh onto the ground at dusk in the fall, we will discover what is beautiful: who we truly are when our souls rest with Jesus and Jesus is at rest in us.
~Bonnie Gray

broken pieces

I’m on a journey for this rest, this spiritual whitespace, and I so hope you will join us.  Pick up your copy of the book here.

Meanwhile let me know this, do you find it hard to rest? Leave a comment below and be entered to win a FREE copy of Bonnie’s book!


25 thoughts on “When Your Soul Cries out for Rest

  1. With you on the journey, Jo Anne ane I love the way you wove the quotes into this post so beautifully. Your thoughts are refreshing and remind me that I am not alone on theis journey. So well put- love your choices for quotes. 😉

  2. Oh my Jo Ann..does this post travel right into the core of the spaces of memories & life stories for me. You mentioned an Oak tree…there is a tree in my story. The tree bloomed again 8) In season..in storm…in sweet joy . I had to rest in whitespace to understand. I deliberately go there.

  3. I love this passage it actually gave me some calming thoughts. For 3 years now God has allowed the same trials in my life. Still wondering when they are going to end and why so long. What did I do to deserve this? Is there something that I’m missing that He is waiting for me to do or realize? And wondering where He went when I beg Him to get me out of these trials. My thoughts cause me to not have rest. I loved reading your book.

    • Hey Deanna . . . great to hear from you! And so glad you connected in the VOICE book. Bonnie’s book is one that walks you right through the journey you describe my friend. Oh how these thoughts can tempt our rest! Praying peace, clarity, and REST for you as you dig in. <3

      • Thank you JoAnn. Bless you for starting this. It has helped me knowing I am not alone in my struggles.

  4. I do find it hard to rest at times when I think I have to do everything on my own but lately I have found peace and giving everything I do not have in control and give those to God that I do not know what else to do God can give me the rest and I am realizing that when I find God resting me even in the trials that come I know that God is with me . <3 I would love to win the Bonnie's book for the reminders in her book would be so uplifting and so encouraging to me .

  5. Yes, I definitely have a hard time finding rest – physically, emotionally, mentally… There is so much going on, so much brokenness we are facing…my emotions take a toll on my body and my mind is always thinking, wondering, worrying, remembering, hoping, dreaming, praying… (of course, some of these things are good, but I also need to be sure to breathe and focus)…my heart is hurting, and my body is worn. 🙁 Trying so hard to find rest lately — just trying to trust Him in it all <3

  6. Oh my goodness… How this resonates with my heart cry! To really be able to come away and rest with Jesus…How to do this…I need to know! Would love to win a digital copy. Thank you for this opportunity:)

  7. Oh, Jo Ann! I really needed this post. I’m tired. I’m in pain. And, most of all, I’m whiny.

    Trying to do it all isn’t making me superwomen; it’s making me super-snarky. I imagine that carving out spiritual whitespace involves knives and blood, because that’s the only way I can find time to come alongside and rest. Even the days spent in bed because of my disability is not restful because I know all the stuff I need to do is piling up — the to-do list grows as fast as the honeysuckle on my azaleas.

    But I know, as the Lord reminded me last night as I cried on my knees before Him, that He (capital “H” all around) is in control. He’s got this. I can lay it down because, at this point, that’s all I can do.

    ‘Going to Amazon to take a look at her book. Thank you.

  8. Yes, Jo Ann, I find it hard to rest. Even when my body forces me to rest physically, my mind races on. I am seeking that mental and spiritual rest, that only He can give.

  9. So very glad that we are on this journey together. As much as I long for rest, I find myself in a season of busy, yet this time I can at least recognize it for the distraction that it is. I need to be intentional to make that time to get alone with God, and be. To breathe, and let God show me the plans He has….but more to turn over those things that I tend to gloss over all too often.

    • Praying for you in the turning-over. Seems that the richest of treasure can sometimes be buried beneath . . . 🙂

  10. Hi JoAnn! I have this book, but after reading your post, I realize how badly I need to read it again. I am in a time of forced rest, and there is nothing about it that is my fault. Instead of some “lifestyle” disease, I got a brain tumor. Than why do I feel so guilty all the time? Why do I always get the feeling that God is displeased that I am not being more, doing more? I need to get this…desperately. I’ll join you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *