Our world is full of problems today. Homelessness, poverty, cancer, racism, and sex trafficking all come to mind. But if I’m honest about it, I rarely deal with these issues directly. I recognize that they are problems, but they just don’t dominate my day-to-day life. However, one of the biggest issues that I do face on an ongoing basis is the issue of “rest”. While this may seem to pale in comparison to the issues mentioned above, this problem is more prevalent and serious than you may think.
Consider your own life for a minute.
When is the last time you simply rested and enjoyed your day? Any day for that matter!
How difficult is it for you to unplug from your technology and go a full day without anything on the schedule?
How consistently do you find yourself saying ‘no’ and protecting your life from being over-run? (or maybe I should say from being “run over”!)
If you’re anything like me, these questions aren’t very easy to answer. But finding margin and rhythm in your life is crucial if you want to thrive in it. Here are a few ways that you can begin to do that today.
Most people know a few of the famous Ten Commandments that God gave Charleton Heston…I mean, Moses, on Mt. Sinai. “Love God only”, “Don’t kill people”, “Stop lying”, etc. You know the list. But the one that gets passed on the most is Commandment #4: “Keep the Sabbath day holy.” I mean, what in the world is that commandment all about anyways?
The answer is varied but the majority of us skip it because we think it was for a day long ago. As modern people, we do not see the need for such a commandment in today’s world. But I would argue that the need is just as great – maybe even greater!- today than it was back then.
We are busier now than ever before. We are making progress and getting stuff done. But to what end? Most people don’t ever stop to actually enjoy any of the things that they have worked so hard for. Including their own families!
Probably the biggest mistake that people make with this commandment is that they believe that it is saying that work is bad. Therefore, some believe, that the Sabbath is a day where you should sit around and twiddle your thumbs and do absolutely nothing. Wrong! That is surely not what God had in mind.
Instead, the Sabbath confirms the fact that God actually LOVES work! In fact, He says that we should work six days a week (you may not want to show your boss this blog post!). What God is not for, however, is non-stop work. He recognizes that we are limited and so are our resources. By building in a day of rest, God blesses us by allowing us to recharge, recoup, and refocus our lives on what matters most.
Think about it. Do you really believe you can be your best without ever stopping to rest? Absolutely not! Yet, in practice, is that what you’re doing?
If we’re honest, most of us have never learned to rest. Oh, we say that we do, but it’s not the same as what God had in mind. Instead, we fill every waking hour with the same rendition of what the other six days looked like. We just do it in a different way or in a different order. We get to the end of Sunday and then we collectively moan, “How can it already be Monday morning tomorrow!!?? I am exhausted!” (sound familiar?)
Rested is rarely how we feel. Something has to give.
One day a week needs to look different from the rest. Here’s what I suggest (actually, God suggests it!).
- Start with worship. Worship is where you tell God, “You are awesome and I’m grateful that you take care of everything in your big, capable hands. Thanks so much!!” Start your Sabbath with this. A good church service is a great place to go on your rest day.
- Focus on what matters. Remember what life is all about. You were not created to simply produce, provide, and prod along. Spend time with the people you love on this day of rest. Enjoy them. Play a game. Go for a walk. Enjoy good food together. Stop neglecting the things that matter most and last forever.
- Put aside whatever distracts. Don’t be a legalist about it, but if you’re going to rest, you probably need to keep your phone and computers or most other devices away from you as much as possible. If you feel pressure and tension about doing this – it probably is even more true for you than you think! If nothing else, at least put them away for a set period of time. Maybe a couple hours. Whatever it is, put aside whatever keeps you from being fully present with yourself or those you’re with.
- Relax. Again, this is not about doing nothing. But having a worry-free schedule is really important just one day a week. Remember that your days are limited and thank God that you are not Him and be thankful that the world doesn’t depend on you making everything right. This is the heart of resting and relaxing. You can rest because God has got it covered.
- Reflect. The reason this is so hard for us is because we never do steps #1-4! More than ever, we need space in our lives to reflect on our blessings and re-prioritize our lives. Use this day as a weekly session with yourself to reflect on all that God has given you, all that He wants to do still, and recommit to living out His purposes in your life while you still have the time.
We are in desperate need of rest. But not just catching up on more sleep. We need the kind of rest that our souls are longing for. The kind that remembers that all of the problems that we face will still be there the next day. So for just one day a week, we’ll set them aside and rest in the One who is big enough to handle it all.
Rested is rarely how we feel. Something has to give.
Why is this concept so difficult for people to accept and implement in their lives? Please comment below.
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