August 17th, 2019
Last night was one of the nights that have become rare to me. I was able to sleep the entire night through and after waking up at my regular time to go to work, I could lay back down and get some extra sleep.
We desire rest regardless of if we are willing to admit it or not.
We enjoy down-time, vacations, get-a-ways, taking-a-break, retreats, time-off, relaxation, recreation · enjoyment, amusement, entertainment, diversion, distraction, fun, pleasure, rest, refreshment, relief, respite, and leisure.
Maybe that should have been present as a bulleted list, but I was too ‘lazy’ to do that.
God understands our desire and need for rest.
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)
In the ‘beginning’ God did much establishing His creation. After six days of intensive activity, God didn’t need rest, but yet, as our example and because he knew our need for rest; He rested.
We don’t spend enough time examining this passage. Most believers are fairly familiar with it, but we read it in passing and go on to see what is beyond the following verses. We really shouldn’t.
God felt there was so much importance to our rest that He became our example and He who never requires rest took a day off. He reinforced this concept in his afternoon walks in the garden with his creation. (Genesis 3:8).
The afternoon strolls through the garden were not unusual for Adam and Eve. That is why after eating from the tree that was forbidden, they knew the rustling they heard was the Creator taking a stroll and expecting to enjoy that walk with them. Scripture says they were naked and afraid.
Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
Genesis 3:9-10 (NLT)
God knew where they were. He knew why they were hiding. He understood that the fear they experienced was the recognition of their guilt for what they had done.
Another key thing for us to realize about the seventh day is the fact God “declared it holy”, because He saw the necessity of rest. One of the other words related to rest that we didn’t touch on initially is ‘reflection’.
God was looking for us to have the opportunity for both rest and reflection. By declaring this holy, He was stating that he was to be an active participant in that rest and reflection.
Yet another term that falls into that rest and reflection model is ‘stepping back’. When we do this and consider how our modern lives, the escalation of activity and engagement has become so pervasive that we have come to the point of disengaging with many of the things that we need to really relax and regenerate.
Even to the point where we replace real relaxation with activities! We don’t just plan our vacations to our place of retreat and then let happen what happens, we schedule out our activities for every free moment of each day. This is so profound that we find that we have to return to work to get a break from vacation.
Something is drastically wrong with our concept of rest!
God’s Concept of Rest
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)
“I will give you rest.” Jesus tells us to come to him (retreat) all who are burdened and weary and He will give us that rest we desire. Take on his yoke (that device that transfers the effort of a beast of burden to an object) “and you will find rest for your souls.”
It is a radical concept in relaxation. The next verse explains why this is; because His ‘yoke’ is light in comparison to that which we carry on our own.
The other thing that makes this radical, is that by us taking on the burden that He gives us, He says He “will give you rest.” That’s an unheard-of concept; effort, as relaxation!
God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, we see now that what He has for our rest is far from what our definition might be. But something we should never forget is that He created us, and His “Rest”, is our best relaxation!
In His Grace!