As the summer starts to wind down and the minds of those involved in all levels of formal education start to drift, sometimes reluctantly, toward the classroom and its pursuits, it’s good to reflect on a simple truth: rest is a godly thing.
If Almighty God, who created the world in six days, rested on the seventh day, what should that tell us? That even the most powerful being in the world seeks to set an example, a pattern for His creation to follow. God Almighty doesn’t need to rest. In fact, Isaiah states very clearly that God “does not faint or grow weary” (40:28, ESV). Not only His love and affection for His creation is indefatigable, but His power is, as well. So the reason God rests on the seventh day of the week is to give us an example, a template to follow.
In many ways, the godly impulse to rest is not only written into our biological rhythms, but it also revives and enlivens us. You may have heard me say in my sermons that following God is becoming more human, and that sin is anything that makes us less human. Life without rest, without a break, without a vacation, dehumanizes us. I’m guessing you probably know what it feels like when you’ve been in a season that has sapped the energy out of you, taken away the zest of life, broken you down physically or emotionally, or made you feel like you’ve got nothing left. There are so many other ways of saying it, but the need for rest from work is an important part of following in Jesus’ footsteps. Even He, God Incarnate, Immanuel, took time away to recharge and reinvigorate Himself by being with His Father (which should probably tell us something, right?).
Our society was built upon the backs of hard workers, and in many ways, the American ideal of a hard day’s work has been retained to this day. However, you don’t have to be a certified workaholic to get tired and worn out. There is much conversation about having a solid awareness of work/life balance and being intentional about maintaining health between the two…and rightly so. The simplest way I can think to put it, at least right now, is that you will not have the fulfilling, meaningful life for which God created you if you have too much work OR too much rest. Having purpose demands work, but maintaining the energy to engage that purpose requires rest.
So as I sit here at my computer, just a couple of days after a week and a half of vacation myself, my prayer for you as the summer finishes up is that you would hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 11, believe them, and put that belief and trust into action: "'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (28-30, The Message).
Adventure is out there! Pastor Aaron