"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..." - Exodus 20:8-10
"And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." - Mark 2:27
Do you struggle to find time to rest? I certainly do. My typical week looks like cooking meals and cramming in some homework before and after classes, spending week nights in meetings, leading Bible studies, or spending some quality time with Caleb, going to the gym a few mornings, writing new blog posts, traveling doing ministry almost every weekend, and going to bed exhausted Sunday night only to wake up and re-live the week again... and again.
Friends, this endless cycle of busyness is not how God calls us to live. Yes, He wants us to work hard, as working for Him and not for men (Col. 3:23). And yes, He calls us to do everything for His glory, whether eating or drinking or anything else we find ourselves doing during each day (1 Cor. 10:31). BUT, He also tells us to come to Him and rest (Matt. 11:28).
I've been studying Exodus for the past few weeks, and every time I read the command about a Sabbath day, I try to tell myself, "Well that was then, and this is now. Our world isn't like it used to be. We can't just stop what we're doing and spend a day resting."
But God says it again and again, more than He brings up any of the other ten commandments, He just continues to talk about how important it is that His people keep the Sabbath. (See Ex. 20:8, 31:12-17, & 35:1-3)
And we can sit here and dismiss it as Old Testament law all we want, but before we do that, take a look at what Jesus said in Mark 2:27. Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." That means that resting is not a law that God made to keep us from the best. It was a commandment to keep us for the best. God had our best interest in mind when he instituted it a sin to break this precious, holy time of rest. He knew that when we rest in Him, we will be filled with energy to live for Him in the week ahead. And the commandment still stands. As much as it is still sinful to lie, idol things above God, or covet, it is still sinful to not take time to rest.
I will be the first to tell you that I fail at this. I rarely take an entire day to rest from my school work and other responsibilities, and some weeks I fail to take even a few hours away from working and doing what I see as "productive." But what if our attitude changes to see rest as more productive? Resting in God produces in us so much more than work ever can. It produces in us a desire to serve and love others selflessly, a desire to share the gospel, and a desire to know Jesus even more intimately.
What could be more productive than spending a good chunk of time resting in God's presence, so he can fill us with what we need for the week ahead?
Whether you can commit 2 hours of a Sunday afternoon or an entire Saturday to resting and being filled by God, the important thing is saying yes to Sabbath rest.
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him..." - Psalm 37:7
If resting in God is a foreign concept and you're in need of some ideas of how to spend your time of rest, here's a list of ten things that are restful to me:
- Spending extra time in the Word, reading more than whatever you read in your daily quiet time.
- Spending a longer time in prayer, especially listening prayer where we come before God in quiet stillness, listening for what He has to say to us.
- Worshipping Him through singing praise back to Him. Some of my favorites right now are: Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, Build My Life by Housefires, & Trust by Hillsong Y&F
- Drawing, painting, creating of any sort. Art is such a good way to creatively worship the Creator of all things.
- Playing card or board games with my family or friends. I'm currently obsessed with Skipbo. Don't ask me why though, because I always lose!
- Going to a coffee shop for a good talk with a friend.
- Reading a Christian book. Try The Gospel: Understanding the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by JD Greear if you're in need of a great read.
- Volunteering. Whether the greeting team at church or serving food at a homeless shelter, serving can be a great form of rest as long as it is not too stressful.
- Writing. When I take time to rest, it gives me time to dream big and write down my dreams, asking God to take them and steward them for His glory. I also find writing blog posts restful for me, but maybe for you it looks like journaling or writing stories.
- Just sitting and being. Not in a lazy, idle way, but in a way that allows us to just think and reflect on how grateful we are for the life God's given us to live!
So, my challenge to you is to set a Sabbath rest time in your busy schedule this week so God can fill you. Commit to trying at least one of these ideas or some of your own and watch what God can do with the time you give Him.