I need a nap.
We live in a very fast paced, busy, “git-er-done” culture. We add lots of things into our weekly activities. We say phrases like, “rest is for the weak” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “Ain’t nobody got time to rest!” to boost the moral of hyper activity. Somewhere we think it’s ungodly to take a break. It isn’t always physical exhaustion that tires me. I have plenty of emotional and relational stress to wear me out these days! Sometimes I wish I was a cat.
Maybe you feel the same: “There’s no rest for the weary.”
But wait, aren’t we forgetting something? When you take a look back at the creation account in the book of Genesis God was busy creating for 6 days but then He took a day off.
I know that sounds like a strange concept for an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is in charge of holding the entire universe together and taking care of His people. Surely God doesn’t have time to rest and surely God doesn’t need to rest. But, not only did God rest He declared a day of rest. Fast forward to Exodus chapter 20 and God reminds the people of Israel about this day of rest called Sabbath.
What is Sabbath? Well, over thousands of years many people have tried to make it into what suits them, what works around their schedule, or a list of religious chores. If you take a close look at Exodus you’ll find that Sabbath is in the list of the Ten Commandments. Amongst all the other important commands to be honest, pure, holy, content, peaceful, and loving is the command to rest. Did you realize this? Have you ever taken a moment to stop and acknowledge that rest is a commandment?
So what should Sabbath rest look like? It’s about embracing God more than anything else. God institutes this commandment straight after the fresh release of the Hebrew nation from 400 years of slavery, bondage, and non-stop work. It was God’s way of not only reinstating what His creative intentions were for mankind but reminding the people of Israel that Yahweh is a God they could trust. They could stop working and remember who really makes things tick, who feeds them, who rescues them, and who provides everything they need.
When we rest we rely on God. We can refocus our purpose, our value, and our worship. If we are too busy to rest we are often too busy to worship. Ironically it takes effort to orchestrate the still moments of life where our hearts are quiet enough to fully embrace who God is and what He has done for us. You have to work to make rest happen.
Jesus made a pivotal statement in this theology of rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Rest is more than taking a nap. Jesus offers rest and it’s better than just a nap. It’s a rest that transcends all the burdens of this world. It overcomes depression, addiction, hopelessness, abuse, failure, rebellion, and sin. It brings a new level of peace that affects this life and lasts for eternity. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
Peace with God through Jesus Christ makes real rest happen. It’s the kind of rest that addresses our afflictions with the antidote of hope. Rest in Jesus Christ comes when we place our faith in His work on the cross to forgive us and make us right with God. Rest comes when we stop trying to earn God’s favor on our own and start trusting that Jesus has earned God’s favor for us. It takes faith to truly enter into rest.
What if I took out the commandment about murder, or the one about adultery? You would say, “Woah buddy, you can’t do that!” and yet, how long have you ignored the command about Sabbath rest? Maybe it’s time that you and I take a closer look into scripture to understand the full implications of Sabbath and how it should look in our lives. Maybe it’s time to stop pushing so hard, working non-stop, and living under bondage. It’s time to embrace a day of rest each week that restores our created image.
I think I’ll go take a nap.