by Marty Rind
When I was in high school, I was involved in a lot of things, such as choir, band, show choir, scholastic bowl, youth group, baseball for a year, and manager for the football team for a year. I also got a job at the end of my junior year that I worked for the next 3 years. However, I wasn’t as busy as many of my classmates. Some did sports year-round, from football to wrestling or basketball to baseball or track. They had a full slate and I don’t really know how they pulled it off. I felt stressed with just the few things that I was in. This is pretty normal for high school students, though. They have sports and extracurriculars on top of keeping up with school. When we get to adulthood, though, does that really change all that much, I wonder. Busyness seems to be prevalent in our culture. There’s the myth that if we aren’t busy, then we aren’t productive.
I hate sitting in my apartment sometimes because I feel like I could/should be out doing something productive. Maybe you feel the same way and that’s not a wrong feeling. I don’t know that it’s a right feeling either if you read the Bible. Genesis tells us that God created the entire universe in 6 days, resting on the 7th day. Ancient Israel had the Sabbath in order to remember the day of rest that God took, because he needed it. Jesus goes on to say that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). David often wrote his psalms from a place of rest, just enjoying the creation God had made. Jesus often times went away to pray and be alone to rest. Jesus even took a nap in a boat in the middle of a storm. If that’s not a Biblical precedence for naps, then I don’t know what is. Jesus also reclines at Matthew’s house after he called Matthew to be his disciple.
Rest is something that is shown throughout the Bible to be important. If rest is so important, why can it be so hard sometimes? We get carried away with all of the stuff we have to do that we forget to give ourselves a break. We think if we don’t get this or that done, then the world will come crashing to a halt and our day will be ruined. I struggle with this false teaching sometimes, as I’m sure you do too. However, it is in times of rest when I feel closest to God. When I go out in the evenings and see the sunset, or when a storm is coming and I see the amazing cloud formations, or even when I go on bike-rides or drives around the countryside and get to gaze at God’s creation is when I feel most alive. I feel at peace and at rest with who I am and who I am becoming, where I am in life, and what God can do through me. This has taken a lot of work over the years. A lot of walks, bike-rides, and drives have happened when I just could not escape the stress of the day or the situation I found myself in.
We were designed to be in community and relationship with God. We see that clearly in Genesis 2-3. It was not uncommon for God to be walking around Eden with Adam and Eve, as we see him do after they sinned. That sin broke the proper fellowship with God that he had desired in the beginning. I think that busyness today does the same thing. We place other things before our relationship with God, be it housework, sports, traveling, our jobs, or whatever else. These things, while not inherently bad, can become bad if they keep us from resting in the presence of God. Psalm 46:10, a very popular verse that connects with a lot of people, myself included, says, “Be still and know that I am God.” I think it connects with so many people because so many of us fail at doing it. What most people ignore is the fact that the verse goes on to say that God will be exalted in the nations and in the earth. God can be glorified through our rest. In fact, I think it is our rest that allows God to be glorified. Thru our rest and alone time, if we do it right, we can become closer to God in our relationship and understanding of who He is. We can then improve in glorifying Him in our lives, and sharing the gospel with others. This is what God intended rest to be. It should be a time of reflection and prayer, spending time with God in order to make the other 6 days of the week all that they can be.
Every week, I take Monday off to recover from Sunday’s activities. It gives me time to catch up on sleep if necessary (I like sleep). More importantly, it also gives me time to reflect on Sunday; what went well and what could I have done better. I can then prioritize what I need to do for the next week and make a plan to be better. I feel like if I didn’t have Monday off, then I wouldn’t be preparing to be my best for Sunday. Work is good. We need to work to provide for our families and to be productive members of society. However, we must not forget to find rest in order to draw near to God and remember why it is that we are here on this planet.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” – Hebrews 4:9-11