As summer winds down, fall approaches and back-to-school becomes a reality, I’m writing this blog post as a reminder to myself as much as anyone. I know what lies ahead: alarm clocks, busy schedules, school events, after-school activities, teacher meetings, field trips, volunteering and sports. Sure, these all bring the gift of learning, the blessing of new friends and the reward of disciplined work…but lack of stillness is the price we pay. And, it can cost us more than just downtime.
Rest is incredibly important, and not just because we physically need it. It also feeds our spirit (and our hope!) It’s something God wanted to show us from the very beginning.
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 NLT)
God modeled rest for us. He demonstrated its value and importance by creating a day for it – and blessing it. And, we need to recognize that God is God. He doesn’t tire or become worn. His power doesn’t ever diminish, so he didn’t need the rest from labor (Sabbath, by definition.) Not at all. He wanted us to know creation was complete. He had finished his labor and was well satisfied with it. He was making a statement worth noting: What he made was perfect.
God’s rest on the seventh day is a foretaste of our eternal joy when creation will one day be renewed and restored, and the world will once again be made perfect. Every mark of sin will be gone. We, too, will revel in the glory of perfection, just as it was in the beginning.
Doesn’t that sound inviting — just beautiful, peaceful, fulfilling…and restful (versus stressful!?) I was refreshed with this hope recently when I was reading Hebrews 4. It begins with, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands…”
It’s a promise. An oath. From a God who doesn’t – and can’t – lie. He is telling us, without doubt or question, what we can look forward to in eternity with him.
But rest is available now too!
This is truly Good News! We can rest in Christ today, because He has already labored for us. He has done His work and made us perfect in God’s eyes. With our trust and belief in Him, our mark of sin is removed too. We can be freed from trying – and failing – to be perfect enough to work our way into eternity. We can stop attempting to create what God already has. We can’t be our own Savior, but God sent his own Son for that. We can have peace and rest and hope in Him.
What a relief, right?!? Because I know I just can’t seem to get it right. And it can be flat-out exhausting to try. I know. I’ve run that course. It has no finish line and no winner. And the front-runners are stress and anxiety and their mean, ugly friends.
I used to run hard and fast for “more” (and even perfection) – a life that I labored, through my own effort, to make better in a number of ways. What I’m grateful to have learned, though, is that I only needed to run toward Jesus.
He is quite lavish.
When I slow my pace and rest from laboring and trying so hard, I have more time to experience Him. I have more time to talk with Him though prayer; more time to hear His voice though the Bible and more time to experience Him through other people.
I have more time to receive His love. And He doesn’t hold back.
I’ve noticed that when I’m not trying so hard to hear my own voice, I can more clearly hear God’s voice. When I strive less, I can open my eyes see what Jesus has already done. When I stop trying to control everything, I can trust in His plans for me – and they’re plans for good and not disaster; plans for hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
When I take time to rest, I have more opportunity to rest in Him.
In doing so, He provides a richness to my life that I’ve never come close to on my own.
Such sweet rest. Such a burden lifted. Such a precious thing to protect. I better keep my eyes open as the requests for my schedule come…