A quick note: three days in and I’ve already missed a day in my attempt to write every day of February. Oh well. I’m not going to beat myself up over it. It’s about challenging myself to write, not a legalistic obligation. I had a busy day and chose to spend the evening with my family rather than writing. I have no regrets.
And we’re walking…
How do you respond when God tells you to do nothing?
I struggle with taking rest. I realize the value and necessity in it, yet I am inclined to work myself to exhaustion, and when I do finally stop, I am still easily overtaken by thoughts of what needs must be met and what awaits when I am finished “resting.” In Western Christianity, the “Protestant work ethic” is a term used to describe, in essence, the mentality that we must work hard for the Lord’s purposes. Sloth is dreaded as one of the “seven deadly sins,” and our culture and society constantly tell us that we need to work harder, to do more.
Don’t get me wrong, laziness is something that none of us should hope to achieve. It is rooted in selfishness and does nothing but unjustly create a burden for those who must pick up our slack.
But what about rest?
There’s small story in the Old Testament where God speaks to the leader of Israel, some guy named Moses, and gives him a list of ten (not so) small suggestions. Heard of it? You can read about it in Exodus 20.
The fourth commandment reads a little like this: ““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. On it you shall not do any work…”
(Exodus 20:8-10 NIV)
James (sounds like a handsome, uber-masculine dude) writes that, “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10 NIV)
Do we realize that by resisting a rest (oh yeah, I went there), we are committing just as much of an affront to God as killing someone else? Let me say that again: God sees our refusal to rest and MURDER on the same level!! Part of that truth is, by not resting, we’re killing ourselves; physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Let me say it this way: Jesus summed up the law as, “Love God with everything you have.” (Commandments 1-3) and, “Love others (5-10) as much as you love yourself (#4).” Our love for others can only healthily pour out of a place of resting in God.
God is calling us to rest so that we can then bring the Kingdom of Heaven to others out of a place of wholeness and peace. The world is feeding us the lie that we must minister out of our own strength and then (typically at the end of the week) be filled back up.
The point of this isn’t legalism. It’s not about following the Law perfectly and being righteous by our own accomplishment.
The point is that God wants us to rest. He wants to bring restoration, healing, and comfort through those times of abiding in Him, and out of that rest empower us to live as citizens of His Kingdom.
Rest: is it the end or the beginning of your journey?