Maybe the best vacation we have ever taken
Rest… my heart begs for it all the time. It’s not just that I want a nap, but if I’m honest, I don’t want anybody relying on me, needing me to do something, or asking for my attention. Being alone with no responsibility and doing what I want sounds easier at first glance. This is not actually what I want or what is best for me as a human, but sometimes I think it is. Left to myself with no thought of God, I’m sure I would push the “easy button” ALL THE TIME! Is what I just described actually the definition of rest, true rest just as God created me to rest? I’m sure people would define rest in many different ways.
God rested on the 7th day and did what?
He took pleasure in what he had created. He saw the beautiful results of his work, but the work was done. I do wish I could say that my work is done, but it never is. There will always be work to do. The wisest man on earth, Solomon, even came to the conclusion at the end of his life after trying…everything, that the only thing worthwhile on this earth is the work that we do under the sun. Our existence is work and because of the curse of sin on the earth, we will work until we die. Only after death do we get to end our work and (for some) enter that forever rest. It will be a rest like nothing we have ever experienced in any day off or vacation here on earth.
But for now I am here on earth, and I do try to find worth in my work, like Solomon said. Is there any rest for me now on earth?
God has heard the weary cries of his people since the day the first humans walked out of the garden and put a shovel in the ground. All throughout Scripture you hear whispers of reprieve, moments of peace, and days of work ceasing. It’s almost as if God’s people are able to quickly catch their breath at times before the next battle with the sinful world they are drowning in. One of these pauses God calls Sabbath. You are familiar with it because It has become a weekly ritual for most of you reading this. The principle of Sabbath, though, is woven through Scripture in many more areas than just the weekly gathering of believers we know today. The Sabbath principle touches land, work, celebrations, journeys, and more. The Sabbath principle is a way of life, a mindset, that greatly affects every area of your life. It is God’s definition of rest for us. Pause. Stop. He knew the incessant toil we were condemned to and gave us opportunities for rest, a taste of what is to come! Rest according to God’s definition will have components of ceasing work, delighting in what God has created, and replenishing what was depleted while working. It definitely looks like the weekly gathering we call church where common hearted friends and relations meet to worship and celebrate the One who created us. Is this the only time we practice the Sabbath principle though? Scripture shows otherwise, and each person/family will have to work out what this looks like in their daily, monthly and yearly calendars. Our family has chosen to take Mondays for Sabbath rest. My husband is a pastor. Saturdays and Sundays are relational, deep, passionate, emotional, purposeful, wonderful, and not restful. We changed schools, blocked off our calendars, agreed on a plan in order to allow Mondays to be our Sabbath rest. It was necessary for the survival of our family, but it may not look like this for other families. As life changes, our weekly day of Sabbath may change, but for now we use Mondays to pause, soak in truth, mull on life, pay attention to the neglected areas, and enjoy each other. For us this looks like prolonged times of reading and writing, then playing as a family. It’s not laziness but rather a feeling of being unhurried. Music, books, projects that are fun, art, and playing in God’s world are rejuvenating activities and an opportunity to point at God whenever you see him. Not all of this happens In one Monday, but at least some of it does. It’s a reprieve, a pause in the busyness. I know Monday is coming and then I can stop. I have to give myself permission to stop or I won’t (because stopping is not very productive!). Actually, both my husband and I are calmer and more productive the rest of the week when we take this time to pause.
So we took this idea of Sabbath into a vacation for the first time a few weeks ago. It was wonderful!!! A whole week of paying attention to what God was saying and looking for Him. A whole week filled with large chunks of reading and writing and thinking. It’s amazing what God says just to you when you are quiet long enough to hear. When you give yourself permission to stop and revel in God, it’s healing and rejuvenating. I realize this is unrealistic to expect every vacation to be like this (I wish it could), but consider scheduling one or two breaks in your family’s yearly calendar where sabbath rest is the goal. It may mean the littles are not included or it may mean that you get to teach them about the Sabbath principle and set up guidelines ahead of time so that rest is possible. I was skeptical, but our kids LOVED the week and were respectful of the times we needed to all be silent. You know, even kids hate to be rushed. I don’t know that we can function properly as humans if we don’t make Sabbath rest a priority. God didn’t make us to operate under constant work. Sabbath was created for us because He knew our weakness and answered our cry for rest. God knows our needs better than we know ourselves. We need him. We need to be still.