Murray, David. Reset. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017. 206 pages. $14.99.
When I ask people how they are doing, they are just as likely to respond with some variation of “Staying busy,” as the typical “Fine.” Digging deeper into those conversations often results in an admission of stress, anxiety, or exhaustion. So many of us live life at an unrealistic pace. We go faster and work harder until life becomes a blur of obligations and responsibilities, with little to no joy or peace.
Living like this for too long inevitably results in some combination of burnout, depression, poor physical health, broken relationships, and disconnect with God. Yet patterns of overwork, overscheduling, and “staying busy” can seem impossible to break. Many simply accept the consequences as necessary for a successful life, or because they don’t believe an alternative is realistic.
David Murray, a pastor and seminary professor, found himself in that exact place. His life and ministry had been getting faster for years. He was preaching sermons, delivering lectures, counseling, speaking at conferences, writing books, and raising five kids. As he got busier, things like sleep, exercise, relaxation, a good diet, friendships, and fellowship with God had all been sacrificed. He knew his life was overloaded, and after a particularly busy period he planned on using a four-week space on his calendar to “catch up.” God had other plans.
On the first day of his planned vacation, Murray found himself in the emergency room with life-threatening blood clots in his lungs. God’s message was clear: slow down, and reset your life. That experience, along with counseling many others who suffered similar breakdowns, led him to develop a program he calls the “Reset Process.” The point of the process, outlined in his book, is to help people reset their lives by establishing grace-filled patterns that lead to a sustainable, fruitful pace.
The process begins with a reality check and review. Murray highlights dozens of warning signs to help us realize how concerned we should be with our lifestyle. He then reviews the issues that typically bring people to this place in life, including things we have control over and things that we don’t. It’s only when we realize the damage we are doing to ourselves with our choices, and the kinds of thinking causing those choices, that we can begin to change.
The last eight chapters of the book are meant to help us perform a step-by-step reset of our lives. They examine things like our patterns of rest and exercise, how we think about ourselves, what we do to relax, how to reduce and prioritize our responsibilities, and our relationships. Each of these chapters is worth reading, though some will be more relevant to you specifically than others. Murray aims to be practical and sympathetic. Each chapter is written with hope, with the goals of increased joy and grace before God.
There are thousands of books available on slowing down your life or being less stressed out. What makes this book unique is its consistent emphasis on the gospel. The whole point of living at a sustainable pace is to honor our Savior. This means living in light of grace, from beginning to end. Murray helps us to see where we are confessing grace but not living it out. His process will help us live integrated lives, finding wholeness physically, mentally, and spiritually. The last chapter focuses on the power of the resurrection. When we live before God the way we were created and saved to live, we experience his power, and his power will sustain us until the day he returns or calls us home.