The last few weeks were hectic for Molly and me. We’re still in the process of unpacking and we still have so much to get done. Add on top of that two little girls who weren’t feeling well and you can imagine the days we were having. Mowing the lawn, wiping noses, unpacking, running wires, doing laundry, doing dishes, wiping noses, snuggling little girls, vacuuming, wiping noses, cleaning, cooking meals, and wiping noses, our days were full.
It had been a very busy week at work for me and a very busy week for Molly. When my weekend rolled around, I desperately needed a day just to rest. And, that made me think about the Sabbath Day. You know, the day of rest that God prescribes for His people. Yes, it’s a commandment, but it’s also a prescription. On Saturday evening, as I lay in bed, I shared my thoughts on it and she said, “Well, that certainly wasn’t today!” She was right. We had worked through our day of rest.
In scripture, God tells us that we need a day of rest. In Exodus 20:8-11 God says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
While in Jesus, we have been set free from the law and come under the new law of grace, Jesus still calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath. He often shocked the pharisees of his day by healing on the Sabbath. But every time he did something on the Sabbath, he was freeing a person. When he healed, it was a removal of pain that allowed rest. When he allowed his people who were following him to glean the grain, he was allowing them to have time with him to continue learning and growing.
That’s what the Sabbath is about. It’s a day of rest when we lay aside our worries, fears, struggles, and work. It’s a day when we take a deep breath and just focus on relaxing and having time with God. Both elements are necessary for the day of rest. So, what does this look like for us?
In the days of the Old Testament, you were not supposed to do any work. Sure, there were some things that were unavoidable, like changing your baby’s diapers or feeding your baby, but otherwise you weren’t to do work. Even when it came to preparing meals, you were supposed to prepare enough the day before the Sabbath that you would not have to cook on the day of the Sabbath. When it came to traveling, you weren’t to go far, because it was to be a day of rest, not a day of work through travel. It was, in essence, to be a day of peace.
Peace. The Oxford Dictionary defines peace as, “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility” and Webster adds, “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” Peace is something for which we all long. After a long week of work, we need to have peace. We need a time when we do not worry, do not have stress, and do not work. Without this peace, we do not rest. Without rest, we begin to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically fatigued and, if we go long periods without rest, we can even grow weak and ill in all three areas. And, I’m not talking about sleep here, although a nap is definitely a bonus. While we do rest a bit while we sleep, we need time while awake to rest as well.
I believe we should still take the time to rest. We need a day when we can just rest and not have to focus on work. This is a time when we don’t mow the lawn, don’t go grocery shopping, or try to fit in those errands we didn’t get to during the rest of the week. Those things will be waiting after our day of rest. And, we need to make sure that while we are resting, we’re not worrying about what we need to do tomorrow! We shouldn’t be fretting over what we could be doing today. That is robbing our rest. Instead, we need to learn how to be still. God knows we need it and he told us to take it. So…REST!
Not only is this a day of rest, it’s a day when we have time to think about our God, to set Him aside as holy in our lives. It is a time to think, pray, and read His Word. It’s a time to discuss it with our family or just meditate on it in our hearts. In this time of stillness, we can listen to that small quiet voice with which the Holy Spirit speaks to our souls. On this day, I dare you to leave your TV off, get rid of the noisy distractions with which we surround ourselves, and just listen for Him to speak. This is a great day to sing your praises, think about what you’re learning in His Word, and seek Him in the solitude of your heart. Pick up your bible and read a bit.
By taking the day of rest that God has prescribed for us, we are worshiping Him! We’re being obedient to Him. And, what’s more, as we find rest, as he lightens our burdens, as he sets us free from the cares of the day, we find ourselves rejuvenated! He refills our tanks. He restores our joy. The day of the Sabbath teaches us how to let go of everything that is work and a burden and let Him have control! By taking this day of rest, we are acknowledging that God is indeed in control. We are worshiping Him by giving Him control over all of those things that may not have been finished during the week. We are worshiping Him by acknowledging that all of those worries we have can be handled by Him without our oversight! And, don’t forget to thank Him as He lifts those burdens.
I encourage you to take the time to rest. Set aside a day each week. It is a sacrifice of your time. It means that you may not get everything done in a week that you’d hoped to accomplish. You have to set aside your worries and let God take care of them. You may have to do a little bit more the day before your day of rest so that you can truly rest when your day arrives, but do it. I assure you, our God is the God of peace. He can and will restore you as you rest in Him!