Rest. It seems like a foreign idea to most people. We squeeze 4 – 6 hours of sleep into a narrow window of our time each day and call it rest. However, when we snap at our children or fall asleep at our desk or drag through an afternoon, the fact that we rested seems doubtful.
I am just like you. Busyness makes me feel productive. If I am sitting, it is usually only because I am furiously typing on the computer on my lap or teaching a student. If I am lying in bed, my thoughts are usually racing ahead to the next day’s activities and work.
But is this the way we are really supposed to live our lives? Is rest necessary? Is it even possible? Do we even know what it means to rest? These are ideas I have struggled with lately. I have come to a few fledgling conclusions, and I’ll be sharing them this month with rest as our theme.
The dictionary defines rest this way:
1.the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep: a good night’s rest.
2.refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor: to allow an hour for rest.
3.relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
4.a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquillity: to go away for a rest.
5.mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.
1. God set the example.
After the miraculous creation of our world, God stepped back and rested. (Genesis 2:2) All he had done to create was to speak the word. Although the task was monumental, it had only taken Him seven days to complete. He did not rest because He was exhausted or on the verge of collapse. He simply rested to set the example for us and to put into motion a cycle He expected us to continue.
Later, Jesus took time for rest. His ministry was only three years upon this Earth. If you or I knew we had just a few years to raise our children and train them for life, we would hustle. Yet, He didn’t. He was always unhurried, but he accomplished more than anyone before or since. Perhaps intervals of rest have merit after all.
2. Christ offers it to us.
Lest you think that rest is something in which only the Divine can indulge, Jesus offered rest to His own followers. Several passages record His compelling words, “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.” If you are furiously running for ministry’s sake, you can be sure that you are doing more than He wishes for you to do. He called His disciples aside to rest, and He does the same for us.
3. We cannot function without it.
It is written into our DNA. We must have rest to function as healthy human beings. This is the way God created us, and to fight it is suicide to our physical health, our emotions and our mental state.
Stress is epidemic in our society today. Pick up any book on health, and you will see stress as a major offender to health. Stress is just the opposite of true Biblical rest.
You can see that rest is essential, but you may not see how it is possible in your life and in modern society. We’ll explore that in other posts. For now, purpose to bring your schedule and personal demands to God. He beckons you to rest. He can also show you how.