27 Nov I Have Given You Rest. Why Won’t You Take It?
Two weeks ago, I was able to get away for the weekend (masked up and kid-free). It is not something that I do very often. Actually – I cannot recall the last time that it has happened.
Rest is something that I have practice and be intentional about. If I am, to be honest, I am terrible at it.
In today’s busy society, we tend to think of rest as an option, the thing we will get to – when we can.
But – rest is not an option; rest is mandatory.
Rest is so vital that God provided an example, He made it a mandate (and holy), and He created specific pathways to it.
We live in a world where the #hustleculture is normal, HECK – it is even applauded. But tell me, how can we live under God’s banner of love and protection if we do not take his advice? Some of us are finding it hard to breathe, or we are struggling to keep up. Others of us feel too burnt out to even think about rest. We are in survival mode. Exhausted.
This idea of “NO DAYS OFF” is not only unhealthy but counterproductive. In the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the author talks about the principle of sharpening your ax. It’s better to take the time to stop, sharpen your ax (self-care and rest), and then continue to cut vs. just continuing to swing with a dull ax.
REST AS A AN EXAMPLE
God knew rest would be so important and that we would be so unwilling to take it that he set aside a day of the week for us to do it!
Do you think God needed rest? No! He was God. The omnipotent, the almighty, the powerful.
But – he rested to create a model for us.
That model was work hard, then set aside some time to rest. Rest is such a meaningful action that in Genesis, it tells us that God created most of the universe to run in a cycle. The earth cycles around the sun to complete the year. The earth spins on a cycle to create days. Just as days, months, seasons, and years go in cycles of darkness, rest, and re-energization, so do our bodies.
Long before we had smart beds and apple watches, God wired into our bodies a biological clock to take advantage of the different seasons, times of day and night. This “clock” is a 24-hour repeating rhythm called the circadian rhythm. Some things happen in sleep that cannot be replicated or replaced by any exercise program, green juice, massage technique, or supplement.
“He enters into peace; They rest in their beds, each one who walked in his upright way.” – Isaiah 57:2
REST AS A MANDATE (& HOLINESS)
Genesis 2:2-3 says, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.“
Our Word then says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” is one of the Ten Commandments.
The full text of the commandment reads:
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days, the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.“
Now that my son is four – I let him brush his teeth unassisted. Only – I have to remind him three times to do it and then walk him into the bathroom before it happens. God tells us to “remember the sabbath” in the ten commandments because he knows we will forget.
REST AS A SPECIFIC PATHWAY
To be seen, resting is counter-cultural. Jesus’ response to our lack of rest is the opposite of those who push you and tell you to “go harder.”
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden … and I will give you rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28
Jesus does not say, “Come to me content, full of energy and delighted.” It is the inverse. Real rest is radical because it is vulnerable. It is honest, and it is hard to do when our surroundings tell us to do the opposite. But – what is so beautiful about the scripture above is that it says we can come to Jesus, regardless of how we are feeling: anxious, unorganized, or any other flavor of mess. He wants it all.
In your vulnerability(ies), Jesus can give you the emotional rest of being you, being safe, and being heard. But – it is not an easy thing. We have to practice; it’s something that we have to learn how to quiet ourselves and rest in.
In a year where taking a deep breath has become more complicated because we are literally waiting for the other shoe to drop – daily, I think we need to be more intentional with our rest – in whatever form it comes in.
You might feel sad and heartbroken that the holidays look so different this year.
You may be barely holding on between a lack of intimacy in your relationships mixed in with home-schooling and your job.
But – you have made it to today.
Do not get stressed out, trying to figure out what ‘rest’ looks like for you. Move as God leads you.
Sip the coffee more slowly.
Extend that walk by one more block.
Take off your shoes and feel the grass in between your toes.
Walk in the rain and breathe out deeply.
Women of Judah, my pastor always says, that “God doesn’t give us tomorrow’s grace today.”
We must trust that.
His grace comes like manna. No excess. No lack. Just for enough for today.