Rest is elusive. For the modern-age, it seems as if it is a new concept. But, a simple reading of the Bible’s teaching will show something different. Even thousands of years ago, the Lord saw it necessary to command us to rest.
In the recounting of creation, we learn that God sets an example for us in that He did not create on the last day of the week. When giving us The Ten Commandments, the fourth is to observe the Sabbath by not laboring on it. Fast-forward to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament and we are taught that our earthly rest is a sign of our eternal rest that believers will receive.
We are taught and commanded to rest because we are restless people. We gain our self-worth from the achievements from our labor. Our hopes are too often tied-up in what we can accomplish for ourselves. Resting in the Lord and in the faith that He is the One who provides is the antidote. Let me give you a few principles to use as you learn to rest.
1. Resting is a spiritual discipline. If all you do is take a nap, it is not a bad thing. But press further into this act. Rest as a spiritual act in which you say that you trust God beyond what you can accomplish for yourself. It requires discipline on your part to stop your mind from spinning on about what needs to be done next. In resting, focus on God and your relationships rather than on your task list.
2. It requires faith. Especially tied to the work that earns us a paycheck. Laying down the tools, shutting down the computer, and walking away from the project for a day is an act of faith. Rather than trying to earn, we sit down in order to receive. For a restless people focused on achieving a reputation and a salary, resting requires faith.
3. It is an art. Resting is more art than science. It is a spiritual act that requires more than just lying down for a nap or hanging out with friends. The spiritual discipline means that you intentionally separate yourself from the emotional tie to labor. In this, you will have to paint on a new canvas for your soul’s sake. Rest by attending worship with the church, attending to your family, and fellowshipping with the saints. Without hard and fast rules, it requires an artful touch from our lives.
4. Rest does not mean complete ceasing of activity. Rest can mean lying in a hammock but it does not require that you remain completely still for a day. Rest has to do with walking away from the industry that the world offers up as our means of existence. Your work is not your life, your identity, or your eternal hope. Jesus is. As you rest, live for what lasts.
5. Sometimes rest does mean completely ceasing of activity. On the other hand, some of us just need to stop… everything. If you find yourself constantly in motion, then you do need to simply take a nap. Still your mind by focusing on the Word. Set aside a day (or days) when you do nothing for work, nothing of the chores, and nothing that requires physical exertion. Forcing your body and mind to rest will allow your soul to focus on where we gain our true rest.
6. It is most especially enjoying God without any agenda. The spiritual discipline of rest is not a mental health break from the world’s rat race. Rest is a focused time to enjoy and invest in our relationship with God. The world offers endless distractions and temptations. God offers Himself. Make your time of rest a time for the Lord.