Newsletter, Spotlight

Rest

I have had the opportunity to take some time off this summer to reconnect with friends, family, and spend some quality time with my beautiful (and insanely exuberant) daughter! Though these periods of time were filled with fun things to do and see, they also contained something much more valuable: REST.

Three times over the past two years I have been blessed to participate in a KINDLE study called “Cultivating Faith”.  Each time I have worked through this study it has been with a different group of people, and I’ve been in a slightly different season of life.  God’s Holy Word has revealed different things to me each time, but I am always hit between the eyes with how much I overlook God’s gift of rest!

The study that I mentioned touches on five key aspects of Christian living that we are called to adopt: Embrace Sabbath Living, Learn and Live Scripture, Pray Unceasingly, Witness Willingly, and Serve Others.  There are daily scripture readings each week that focus on each of these aspects.  At first glance, the readings that focus on God’s instruction to Embrace Sabbath Living seem repetitive…until we start to dig into the original language and the context.

We first hear about this idea of rest in the creation account.  There is a footnote for Genesis 2:2 in my study Bible that indicates “Here God rests because His creative work is complete, not because He is weary.” That struck me.  How often is it that we only give into rest when we have gotten to the point of “weariness”, rather than trusting that the work is done?

This sort of rest is also described in Exodus 20 when we (via the Israelites) are given the commandments.  Once again there is a poignant section of the footnote: “They needed a day of rest, primarily for the soul.”  Our souls need this rest, but we aren’t often as in tune with that as we are with the signals our bodies send, telling us to slow down.

We are given an even more elaborate description of this Sabbath rest in Deuteronomy 5:12-15.  In verse 15 we are reminded that God’s people had been slaves in Egypt—they had been saved from their unending work and given the gift of rest.

Some aspects of our society today seem to treat this idea of rest as more  of Image result for energizer bunnya burden than a gift.  We pride ourselves in showing all that we can accomplish,  what we can show for our efforts, and how we can just keep on going and going and going and going…

We also don’t often allow for rest in the world around us!  We are annoyed when businesses aren’t open when we are free.  We expect all opportunities and services to be a click away at all times.  We even get incredibly frustrated when the technology that speeds everything up for us doesn’t work smoothly on our first try, every time.  This may seem to be light-years away from what the Israelites faced, but it’s probably pretty similar to the repeated instruction that all of the servants, slaves, and visitors were also to be given the gift of rest.

And what about all of the times that a conversation that turns into a tennis match—bouncing back and forth with comparisons of how busy each of us are??  I know I’ve been guilty of that–trying to show that my time and skills are valuable!  WHY is that such a thing for us!?!

…I think I might know why…

We fall so easily into the trap of basing our self-worth in things other than the fact that we are God’s beloved and redeemed children.

What hits me even harder, though, is that it’s not about resting when we need to re-charge, but about trusting that the work is done.  That is hard.  Most days, it feels like the work is never done, but we have an amazing and powerful God, who has commanded us to rest.  We can trust that He’s got this.  We rest because we need time with our Lord and Savior more than we need to complete whatever task is on our to-do list.  We rest because we need to experience the beauty that is creation in order to remember our call to be stewards of this world that God has given us-for THAT is what gives our work meaning!  We rest because we find true (and lasting) nourishment and encouragement in scripture, not in the accolades of this world.

So, my friends, as we get back into the regular rhythms and routines of fall, I invite you to make a commitment to finding Sabbath rest.  For you, that may mean setting aside time each evening for family devotions (click here for an awesome and simple structure to try!), or committing to a small group Bible Study.  Maybe it means shifting plans so that Sunday (or Wednesday) worship can be a given for your family rather than something that happens when you’re free.  Whatever it looks like for you, I pray that you find peaceful rest through some intentional time with God!

In His Service,
Tara Barrett, DCE

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