I’m not really sure when it happened, but sometime in the past few years our lives became hectic. It could be the two loud, yet unfathomably awesome, kids running around yelling all the time at home, the several changes to my employment, the juggling of family, church, research, and work, the demands of running a business, travel, etc. Pick something from that list. They all apply. Basically, that’s my version of the story that most of the people I know tell. We have become so busy in our daily lives that we actually find it hard now to spend a day at home and just “be” together as a family. Anytime we have a day off, we feel compelled to set a plan and execute it. We have become adept at approaching our weekends with tactical precision. Simply put, it is hard to go from moving at the speed of a cheetah to the pace of a snail.
We have become so busy that our rest has now become un-rest.
We serve a God who is interested in our well-being. He is not a distant God who creates and them leaves his creation to flounder in his absence. No, he is a God who created human beings that we might enjoy him eternally. He cares about your desires, your joys, your hurts, your needs.
God cares about your rest.
The opening pages of the Bible paint a picture for us of the creative majesty of God, who brought all of creation into being out of nothing. He created humanity, you and me, as the pinnacle of this miraculous work. Scripture tells us that we are created ‘in his image’, and we have been endowed with creativity as part of that image. We see this almost immediately after the creation narrative when God gave the first man, Adam, the tasks of caring for the garden of Eden and naming the creatures of the earth. (http://bible.us/112/gen.2.15,19-20.niv84) But all creative action requires at least two things, a span of time with which to create and a span of time with which to reflect on what one has created. All work is creative to one degree or another. So, in other words, work demands rest.
And so we read in the Bible that God first created and then he rested.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (http://bible.us/112/gen.2.1-3.niv84)
And he commanded his people to do likewise:
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (http://bible.us/112/exo.20.11.niv84)
We do ourselves a disservice when we do not honor the Sabbath, when we don’t rest. And what is more, we dishonor God and his commandments. God hasn’t handed down arbitrary commands to us because he is bored. He has done so out of a desire for our well-being and for his own glory.
Sabbath wasn’t intended to tie us down, but to set us free from the tyranny of the urgent.
If you struggle as I do with (un)rest, I urge you to begin seeking God in prayer and asking him to show you once again how to rest. There is no better time for this than the current season of Advent, when we are called to wait with anticipation for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Advent is a call to active rest, in the sense that we are actively remembering the Incarnation and anticipating Christ’s return, but it also calls us to a period of quiet expectation where we can do little else but wait upon God to move.
Let’s make this season a season of recalibration. A recovery of sabbath rest.
For a great resource: Sabbath Keeping, It’s About time (Seedbed)