Well, I have gotten in the habit of praying over my blogs before I schedule them to be posted, and I genuinely pray that this blog (and any other on my page) is a source of encouragement and a positive resource for you. OK – enough mushy stuff, let’s get on with it! :)
“By the seventh day God had finished His work, and so He rested. God blessed the seventh day and made it special, because on that day He rested from His work.” Genesis 2:2-3
For those who may not be aware, the “seventh day” the above passage is referring to is the day after the Lord God created the whole world at the beginning of time. He made swirling galaxies, trees, anteaters, oxygen, volcanoes, moons, and everything else in the universe… and then He made space for rest. This period of rest is also known as “sabbath.“
God, who does not age and who does not sleep and who does not grow weary, certainly did not rest because He needed it, but rather as an important example for all of us. Throughout the Bible, intentionally honoring the sabbath by refusing to do work of any kind was incredibly important, under penalty of death in some circumstances (Exodus 31:15)!
Fast forward to today.
We live in a society that enjoys being busy. I like to keep busy, honestly. Busyness and working hard are not wrong at all. God designed us to enjoy when progress is made. But… if you’re anything like me, sometimes it can be hard to know when to turn off your phone, step away from the email, or power down your computer (or walk away from the piano, in my case!).
When I was in college, I went through a season of intense weariness (as is not uncommon for college students round the world) because I neglected to honor the sabbath (to make space for rest). I recall the Lord bringing to my attention that not honoring the sabbath is actually a sin. To regularly and intentionally rest from work is one of the Ten Commandments. According to Exodus 20:8, it is clear that on the sabbath day we worship God, and I also have come to believe that God, in His compassion and understanding, instituted the sabbath to protect us. (See Mark 2:27.)
Friends, God cares about our health and our wellbeing. Seriously. He requires that we protect ourselves by making space for rest. Many people struggle with stress and overworking, and they ask for God to relieve them. Honestly, if we were obedient in the first place and honored the sabbath, we would avoid so much of the burden that comes from working too much. Our obedience in honoring the space for rest is a major way that God takes care of us!
I used to struggle with making space for rest because I mistook it for laziness. Maybe some of you today think this. Far from it! Intentionally chilling by yourself or with people of your choosing, or doing an enjoyable activity, brings refreshment. Burnout happens in part when we are slack in seeking refreshment, and the longterm effects of burnout are brutal and merciless… I’ve been there at least once in my life.
The expression “The best gift you can give someone is a healthy you” has so many profound ramifications here. Think of a day of rest as a phone charging. It’s not laziness at all. Wipe that unbiblical thought from your mind. It very well may be the most productive day of your week when you understand the strength and power that comes from resting and enjoying the peace of God. You are charging your battery.
I also used to barter when it came to honoring the sabbath. “Today is really busy, so tomorrow I’ll take three hours to rest. Then on Saturday, I’ll take 5 hours to rest.” And I would squeeze in a little rest here, a little rest there. And the end result? No longterm rest happened. Taking well-meaning breaks throughout your day is not equivalent to what God requires of us by honoring the sabbath. Make space for this rest. Make a full day of rest happen. If your job can’t allow one full day of rest, you need to rethink your priorities. Be obedient to the Lord. It may be time to find a different job.
Last nugget – many in Western culture think of the sabbath as Sunday, which is fine. But for ministers, Sundays are obviously not a day of rest (and all the pastors said amen!!). Sundays are a major “work day” for us. Intentionally select another day for your rest.
Friends, friends, friends… I hope I communicated effectively the importance of making space for rest. Please hear my heart. Be obedient to God, do yourself a favor – and a favor for those you interact with – and refresh yourself on a regular basis. Creativity and productivity flow best from a place of refreshed wholeness and peace.
Refresh yourself. Honor the sabbath. Read a book on your porch, go shopping at your favorite store, piece together a puzzle with a friend, take your wife on a date, do a little gardening, make cookies from scratch, lounge around the beach in sandals… Do what refreshes you. Recharge your batteries. Set aside a day to enjoy the peace of Christ.
How kind is our God to think of us and invite us to rest.
So much love,