In today’s culture, we tend to live our lives striving for productivity and progress. We jam-pack our schedules and lists, barely ever leaving a spare moment to just be. When all we see is our to-do list, we never allow ourselves the time and space to step back, look around, and be present. With this pressure we put on ourselves to stay busy, we miss some of life’s greatest treasures.
Rest is our way of stepping back. A way to stop thinking about all we have to do and enjoy what we already have. This is exactly what God did on the seventh day of his creation: he stepped back and 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. Genesis 2:1-2 (NIV)
The opening chapters of the entire bible start with six days of work and end with one day of rest. After creating everything (literally everything including land, ocean, animals, sky, moon, sun, mankind), God created rest. This is the rhythm of life God created and wants us, as children created in his image, to mirror.
Later, rest appears in the Bible as a Great Commandment.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.“ Exodus 20:8-10 (NIV)
The Sabbath is our gift from God. He knows how necessary it is. He knows that we need the time and space to breathe, rest, celebrate, and reflect. He knows that we will eventually crash and burn if we don’t ever hit pause.
Rest is for you. Rest is for me. Rest is for us, so that we can flourish in life. In order to be the best coworker, businessman, artist, writer, barista or receptionist, we need to take the time to refill; Refill our energy, creativity, vision, clarity. Rest is life-giving, and too many of us are missing out.
So how do we rest?
The Sabbath is a day created for rest and for worship. It isn’t a day to go to the bank, mow the lawn, grocery shop, or scroll endlessly through Instagram. It is a day to just be.
This could mean brewing coffee and reading a good book, afternoon naps, morning bike rides, playing games with family, going out for a big brunch, taking the dog for a long walk, listening to worship music or calling a friend.
This is resting in his glory and enjoying the world as God intended it to be. This glorifies God. The Sabbath is a day to rest with him and rest in him.
Our God holds the invitation of rest before us each week. Many of us refuse or ignore this invitation, and eventually, we will reap the consequences: fatigue, burnout, anxiety and broken relationships.
We have all been there. We have let our busy schedules and to-do lists get in the way of spending time with God, being there for our family or enjoying a sunset. It isn’t easy to get into the rhythm of resting every week, but once we set aside the time, everything else (including our busy schedules) will shift into perspective.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.“ Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)