And as I've sort of entered into this period of physical and mental rest, it also feels as sort of a spiritual rest where God is needing me to calm down and re-evaluate my faith and in the midst of thinking this through, I felt God leading me to share on the topic.
It seems that as time progresses and we find faster and faster means of doing things, society somehow places this pressure on our lives that, because we have this extra time, we must fill this time with something else to do, and, consequently, we never really slow down.
And when this thought is pondered upon, oneself finds their thoughts being drawn to the very beginning of Scripture... well I hope your thoughts are drawn to Scripture. : /
Why? Because this God we serve is the very author of what it means to rest, to chill out, to look back on His work and say "It is good." And yet, it seems that we have grown this mentality that says "If you're not constantly involved in ministry, you're not doing enough." And its almost as if we get legalistic about it, and we, in our own small way, end up creating a works-based salvation.
Let us draw, for a moment, to Genesis 2.
"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 2:2-3 NIV
I guess its easy to forget that this concept of 'rest' is actually a holy concept. That it is sanctified and perfected by Majesty. And before we go any further, we do need to draw a line because Scripture also speaks out against laziness.
"For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.'" 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV
And its good that Scripture makes this distinction so as not to thwart and mistake the holiness of what it truly means to rest as opposed to being a potato couch... which I am... sometimes.
But on a spiritual level, what does this mean to us? In an effort to avoid this works-based mindset on salvation, what does it means to really... rest?
I recently spoke with a sister in Christ on the topic of working in faith and what this means to us and she brought to light a verse of Scripture that I've probably brushed past countless times yet appears so profound.
When Christ was being asked about doing the works God requires, this is His response:
"Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:29 NIV
Isn't that awesome? When you look at this verse in John 6 and relate it to Jesus' final words "It is finished" it resonates the saying,
"Religion says 'do'. Jesus says 'done.'"
While we get so wound up sometimes in trying to do things for God, He's whispering, "Chill, it's already done." And we're simply reminded all over again that we can do nothing to earn this salvation He offers because He has already done what is needed.
And this basis of faith, of belief in God, what He has done and even obedience to His commands and its relation to finding rest for our souls resonates throughout Scripture.
"Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rests for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16a NIV
The good path leads to rest, not from it because God, more often than we realise, simply wants us to abide in Him. To wait upon Him and listen to what He has to say in our lives. To be restored by Him, to be refreshed so we don't burn ourselves out spiritually. This is His desire for us.
Today, at church, several families shared what they were doing once they would move on in the summer and one couple talked about God's calling in their lives to rest and I recall them commenting that they didn't fully understand what it meant to rest and that they didn't have all the answers but they were going to step down from the ministries that they were involved in and simply abide in God.
"for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his." Hebrews 4:10 NIV
Isn't it amusing when people go on vacations and yet there's often one family member who has brought all of their work with them? This isn't what God wants for His children. He knows that in order to rest, we simply need to let go for a while.
And, sometimes, the idea of 'letting go' scares us, and we begin to think that we aren't doing enough for God. But this rest that God offers is the fruit of obedience, and as Paul points out, is worthy of making every effort to enter into.
"Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their [Irsael's] example of disobedience." Hebrews 4:11 NIV
Some people love to work and work and work, but when it comes to serving God, that isn't what God desires. He knows we need this spiritual rest more than we know ourselves, and He's waiting for us to accept it.
So, chill out, and allow God to minister to you as you rest in Him knowing that His work remains finished upon the cross.
God bless you all.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV