verb: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. noun: an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activities. (Google defined)
I have always loved the definition of words because it helps clarify what the word is and reminds us how to best to use it. Definitions also help us to focus on the meaning. If we truly wish to rest we must set aside work and/or movement. To truly rest is to also step away from stressful and taxing situations. Rest was given to us by God because He knew we would need it, for He Himself needed it when He was creating the world.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then 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
Unfortunately, the culture of today has us working every day of the week. As our corporations get more greedy and drive harder and harder for progress, we are forced more and more to work, leaving little room to rest. With the hustle and bustle of life where we constantly seem to be on the go, it’s hard to find the time to rest. This is even more true for parents since, after work, they’re traveling to ballgames or acting practices, and if you have more than one kid you have several activities throughout the week to get through on top of the necessities like grocery shopping. You might be looking at your schedule book or planner right now thinking when in the world are you supposed to find the time to take a break.
Sometimes the problem is ourselves and our desires to do this or that. Sometimes it’s the devil using one major characteristic of all who are saved to his advantage. Those who’ve accepted their salvation, having welcomed Jesus into their hearts and repented of their sins, tend to want to serve as Jesus calls us to. We want to help others in any way we can, always saying yes to the person who has come to us asking for help. The devil knows of this desire we have and he begins to attempt to turn it against you.
I’ve fallen into this trap before. I’ve said yes to several serving opportunities in my church because I wanted to help. I don’t want to be a burden to others, so it takes a lot for me to ask for help. When I finally do, I only reach out to one or two people. If two people tell me no, then I feel as if no one wants to help me and I buckle down to try to figure out how to help myself. Thus, when someone comes to me and askes for my help, I used to automatically think they were like me and it took much effort on their part to admit they needed assistance. If I didn’t help them, they might think no one cares.
Eventually, I became overwhelmed with stress and being involved in the activities that I was to help our church was no longer a wondrous thing but something I dreaded. No longer being able to handle it all, I went to my pastor and broke down. I didn’t want the teams I was on to think I was abandoning them, but at the same time I couldn’t take it any more. I felt I was in a rock and a hard place.
Explaining all this to my pastor, he asked, ‘What are you passionate about?’ Of the five things I was involved in at the time, I picked two. He said, ‘okay, now focus on those and kindly step down from the others. The devil knows we want to help, to serve. He uses that to make us feel overwhelmed so that in our eyes church is no longer a place of joy but a place of burden and we’ll start distancing ourselves from it and God’.
Rest isn’t just for the body. It’s for the mind and the soul as well. If we don’t rest, our sanity starts to stretch to its limits. If our minds are exhausted, we won’t focus on the word of God and will easily stop committing to our daily quiet time with the Lord. If we stop being in the word, our souls will deplete of the nourishment scripture gives us and will thirsty after it, leaving us feeling empty. This, too, will happen if we get into the habit of not attending services ever week, for service not only feeds us God’s word but draws us closer together as a spiritual family.
Going back to our definition above, we are reminded that to rest is to relax and remove ourselves from strenuous situations. Unfortunately, we forget TVs, computers, and video games are mentally stressful. Our minds are set to work when lights are on and to try to keep up with movement if we’re intent on watching a series of events unfold. On the flip side, our minds slowly shut down when little to no light is used. We can fall asleep while reading an actual book or magazine faster than we can fall asleep while playing a video game. Having been out of the habit of playing video games myself before bed for a while now, in the past two days I started up again. And in those two nights I got a restless night sleep, waking up both mornings feeling more exhausted than I did the night before.
We need rest, my friends. I mean, if the Creator of the universe needed rest on the seventh day, so do we. I encourage you to set aside at least four consecutive hours twice a week to rest. Teach your children it’s okay to pause now and again to take a break and recover the energy we need to get through the next day. Spend some time focusing on your recovery or on the people who matter the most to you while temporarily stepping away from the chores that need to be done or the errands that need to be ran. Sit, breathe, relax, and enjoy the beautiful day God has created. And if anyone askes why you’re lounging around, just say God told you so.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.”Hebrews 4:9-10