If sleep is important to our work as evangelists and faithful Christ-followers, then so is rest. Taking a day or even a few hours off at regular intervals allows our bodies to heal and our minds to refocus, spurring our creativity and opening our eyes to new possibilities. Proper rest allows us the time to explore and enjoy the world around us. It gives us the opportunity to marvel at God’s creative power and loving care. And it opens the doors which allow us to better develop our relationships with both our Master and our fellow humans – both of which play a key role in our endeavors to share the Gospel.
For many of us, however, finding time to rest can be just as challenging as getting a good night’s sleep! Between all of the things we have to do, how are we supposed to find time for the things we want to do? And how do you create the opportunity for genuine rest when you have a brain that, like mine, never seems to turn itself off? Do we just surrender to the realities of our modern world… or is there a better way?
To answer these questions, we need to begin with the understanding that God set a pattern for our rest early in the Scriptures. Genesis 2:2 tells us that, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” That God intended this to be more than a moment of relaxation for Himself is evident; the following verse declares that, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
This sanctification is clarified in Exodus 20:9-11 in which Moses commands the Israelites, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” According to Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) This day was intended to be a special gift from God to us… and it’s up to us to choose to accept it.
So how do we do that in a world packed with deadlines and schedules beyond our control? Over the next few weeks, we’ll take some time to delve into the issues which help or hinder our ability to embrace the rest that God offers. We’ll investigate what it means to properly observe the Sabbath, talk about the importance of setting boundaries between work and play, explore the value of developing and maintaining a few hobbies, and discuss what to do when opportunities for genuine rest are few and far between.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to drop us a note in the comment box below! We’d love to hear about your own journey as we learn to embrace the gift of rest!