A few weeks ago many of you had the opportunity to be a part of our latest Equip training on “Organizing Chaos.” You can find the podcast, notes, and handouts from this event HERE. At this equip training we discussed how life is ridiculously busy and how we are all searching for some sort of semblance of “balance.” However, I shared that achieving balance in life is impossible. We then spent the rest of the evening discussing how to develop a “Rule of Life” to live by (For a great resource on developing your own rule of life check out Steve Macchia’s Crafting a Rule of Life). I shared Peter Scazzero’s definition of a rule of life from his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He defines a rule of life as “an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do.” We then discussed why a rule of life has everything to do with organizing the chaos in our life. As we closed out the evening we discussed how, when we can keep God at the center of everything we do, interestingly enough, life becomes a lot more organized.
Over the past few weeks we have talked about the importance of silence and solitude, Bible study and prayer, and reflection. This week we are concluding our discussion by discussing the spiritual priority of rest.
It seems as though the common theme throughout all of these “Organizing Chaos” blogs is that we are all incredibly busy. So busy that almost all of us think we have no time to rest. We take seriously the saying, “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” There are simply too many tasks and responsibilities to take care of. God, however, sees rest very differently. Rest is so important for Godthat he both modeled it for us and commanded it of us. In Genesis 2:2 the Bible says, “On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” Now we all know God did not need to rest. It is not as if creating for six days wore God out. Rather, God chose to rest on the seventh day to demonstrate for humanity the importance of rest.
We also see the importance of rest in Exodus 20. Rest is so important for God that he places the command to rest in his Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:8-11 God commands:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
God took rest seriously. He took rest so seriously that he commanded it and punished his people when they failed to rest (see Exodus 31:14; Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36).
Why then do we not rest well? The answer is because we do not trust God. In fact when we do not rest we make ourselves God. We basically tell God, “I don’t trust you. If I don’t work on the day I should rest, everything I need to get done won’t get done. I can continue to work without rest because I have no limits. I’ll get it done. I can do it.” When we choose not to rest we fail to acknowledge our limits as the created and we fail to honor God as the Creator and sustainer. Rest is not just about physical rest; it is also about spiritual rest. Rest is worship.
We must recognize that God created the Sabbath, or rest, for us. This is what Jesus means in Mark 2:27 when he says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Because we are finite people and because God created the Sabbath for us, we need to rest. While today we find our spiritual rest in Jesus and his work on the cross (Hebrews 3:7-4:13), we still have a need for physical rest in our lives. So how can we rest well in our lives?
I want to encourage each of us to do three things. First, develop a rhythm of work and rest. This is essential. Do all you can to create a rhythm and pattern of when you work and rest. What I mean by this is if you work Monday through Friday, rest on Saturday. And try and do this consistently. Or maybe some of you work weekends but have a weekday off. If so try and work the same schedule so you can rest on the same day. I realize this is not realistic for everyone, but there is something to be said for rhythms of work and rest. When you develop a rhythm you can know when you will rest and look forward to that day or time of rest. Secondly, discover what to exclude from your time of rest. There are simply some things that do not help us rest. For example, too much time on my iPhone or iPad does not allow me to relax. Also, if I’m stressed out I struggle to rest. I also try and limit how much TV I watch. Finally, I try and do no shopping on my day of rest. These are all things that cause me to spend less time resting. Discover things in your own life that you need to refrain from when resting. If you do so I can promise you that your times of rest will be more beneficial. Finally, focus on including things in your time of rest that (1) rest your body, (2) replenish your spirit, and (3) restore your soul. Here you are going to think about and practice things that fill you up. On my days of rest I like to spend time with my family, play with my son, read my Bible and pray, read a great book, take a nap, and forget about all of my responsibilities. There’s nothing particularly special about these activities except that they fill me up and allow me to rest well.
The thing about resting well is that you have to be intentional about it. If you do not plan to rest well you never will. You have to plan your days or time of rest. When you do so you’ll think about what to include and exclude from your rest and your rest will be much more beneficial. My prayer is that we will all seek to rest more. May we all honor and worship God by recognizing our finiteness and God’s infiniteness. We need rest and when we do rest well we worship God through it. Make time to rest and do it. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.