Dear Friends,

I truly enjoy what I do and so I don’t think much about vacations and such.  Usually, Amy has to remind me that we need to start thinking about and planning a time away from our normal pursuits.  She is always right, of course, because if I don’t plan times to get away and rest, I will go until I find I am having a difficult time functioning or am feeling tired and sluggish.  At that point I realize that I have overestimated my stamina and my work/life enjoyment and productivity begins to suffer.

“Rest” is defined as “ceasing work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” “Relax” means “to become loose or less firm, to have a milder manner, to be less stiff.” The Bible shows us that God takes rest seriously.  Beginning in Genesis 2:2-3 we see that God created for six days; then He rested, not because He was tired but to set the standard for mankind to follow. God used one of the Ten Commandments He gave Moses to make resting on the Sabbath a requirement of the Law (Exodus 20:8-11). The requirement to rest wasn’t something new; it had been around thousands of years since creation. God knew we needed it!  Now, this command to rest was not an excuse to be lazy. Nope, God said, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9).  That’s a command too.  (Personally, I like our 5-day work week!) God even commanded that the land needed to rest (Leviticus 25:4, 8-12).  Yes, God is very serious about rest.

I believe that God commanded us to rest because it does not come naturally to us.  Today, most people’s lives are built around either their careers or their passions.  These are super important to us because they are part of what defines who we are and provides for our nourishment, health, shelter and comfort.  To rest and relax we have to put these aside at least for a time.  That means we have to trust that God will take care of things for us. We have to trust that, if we take a day off, our world will not stop turning.  

As early as Genesis 3 mankind decided that we didn’t want to trust God that much.  We collectively decided, through our common ancestors Adam and Eve, that we would start making all the decisions.  Since then, stress has been our constant companion and we have become more tense, more violent and less able to relax. Disobedience exiled us from God’s rest, but obedience to Christ here on Earth promises a return to God’s eternal rest (Hebrews 4).  Ultimate rest is found only in Christ. He invites all who are “weary and burdened” to come to Him and cast our cares on Him (Matthew 11:28). It is only in Him that we find complete rest from the cares of the world, from the sorrows that plague us, and from the need to work to make ourselves acceptable to Him.

Jesus is our Sabbath rest.  He has fulfilled the law on our behalf.  However, even Jesus, while He was on earth and subject to the frailties of the flesh, took time to rest.  He would go off by himself to pray. He and His disciples would seek out places to get away from the crowds.  They also attended weddings and visited family and friends.  If the almighty, eternal and infinite God the Son saw the benefit in these times of rest, relaxation and refreshment, we should as well!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike