I have been battling with disobedience. I have, at times, been in direct defiance with what the Bible clearly and specifically says and find it difficult to overcome my "problem" on a daily basis.
My issue is REST.
You shall rest, even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest (Exodus 34:21).
But this is found in the Old Testament and is probably somewhat outdated when considering today and the reality of life, isn't it? It was written before the industrial revolution and before the technology boom after all. Don't we now live by a new epigram?
You'll have time to rest when you die - Robert DeNiro
My problem isn't that I can't rest; rather I just don't always choose or take the time to rest, especially time to rest in the Lord. When I seem to take a moment to sit and relax, I have a sense of work needing to be done, an urgency to "do something," thoughts of issues needing to be resolved or a feeling of guilt. Do you ever experience this?
Of course there are those who don't struggle at all with rest. There are some who seem to think "Thou shall rest" is the eleventh commandment. Maybe I need to start drinking of that cup.
A day of "rest" doesn't seem to be emphasized or encouraged in or through the church much either. With our busy schedules, multitasking, various activities, multiple jobs, ministries and lifestyle, rest is rarely discussed as being a command from the Lord, but rather more of a suggestion. When we do speak of it, it is often met with a smirk almost as if we are speaking of blatantly sinning or being weak.
When I was in Israel a number of years ago, I didn't think about the Sabbath until I entered a Shabbat elevator where every floor on the panel was lit up. It was as if a little kid went and pushed every button before I got in. Shabbat elevators are keyed to stop at every floor in order to circumvent the Jewish law of abstaining from operating electric switches on the Shabbat.
In 2001, there was even a Shabbat law passed requiring any new construction of a building with more than one elevator to have a Shabbat module installed on one of them so it could be switched to this mode.
I understand both laws and, as strange as it may seem to some, it just emphasizes our need for controls or for persuasive measures, even to the point of forcing us not to work.
If you have ever been on a workout routine or studied any athletic training schedule, there is always a time set aside for a break. No matter how hard a person trains or how many hours a person puts into working out, there is a day of rest.
A couple of years ago, I was determined to get myself in "real" shape. I purchased a set of dumbbells and put myself on a pretty strict workout schedule. I exercised six to seven times a week sometimes twice a day. I worked each muscle group (chest, biceps, shoulders, triceps, etc.) three times per week, and for the most part, was able to see a difference for all of my effort.
However, it wasn't until I changed my workout to focus on each muscle group only once a week did I start seeing a more significant change. In consultation with other lifters and reading about muscle building, I learned my muscles needed to have a substantial time to rest. By working them out every other day, I wasn't giving them ample time to repair themselves.
The land is to have a year of rest (Leviticus 25:5).
The Lord even commanded the land to have a Sabbath of rest in the seventh year of being used.
Farmers know the importance of rotating crops so the land will have a chance to replenish itself. If they continue to plant the same crops in the same fields year after year, the soil will eventually lose the nutrients necessary for proper growth.
Overworking a piece of land will not produce prosperous crops and overworking you (without rest) will not produce a healthy life, especially spiritually.
I learned this lesson years ago when I worked in youth work. I devoted my entire life outside of my career to the youth. I spent my weekday nights with the guys in my group and spent weekends on trips or hanging out with the teens.
Instead of taking time for myself to go to Bible studies, get "fed" in the Word or rest in the Lord, I would utilize my time in ministry. As a result, years later I noticed my relationship with the Lord was lacking even though I was in prayer, in church and "doing ministry" every day. I wasn't taking the time to rest in him. I wasn't replenishing myself. I wasn't leading a balanced life.
Many of us are struggling to keep our heads above water, trying to juggle work, finances, family and friends, along with living a healthy and righteous life. Some of us feel we can't add one more thing to our plate without breaking down or breaking something.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, for I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Contrary to what we may think or may believe, instead of trying to reduce the amount of things in our life in order to make it more manageable (which may need to done), maybe we need to add something—rest in the Lord.
Maybe our lives seem so out of control, in total disrepair or altogether burdensome because we haven't taken ample time to spend with the Lord. He calls us all to himself. His desire is for us to look to him when we are weary. And when we do, he promises us rest.
When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:6-8).
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).
Why is it we often don't take the time to rest when our Creator himself did? Do we think we don't deserve it, can't afford to or don't think it can help?
Take the time to go off alone and commune with the Lord through his Word and through prayer. Even if you don't know where to start, have anything to say or understand your circumstances. He just wants us, his children, to lie at his feet and take comfort in him.
We may never be able to comprehend God's timeline or timeframe in relation to our 24-hour day, but we do know he created the world in a day and He took that same amount of time, a day, to rest. If we can allow ourselves to do the same, we may be surprised at how much healthier we feel, how our lives will be in order and how much more we will be able to accomplish.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].
**This article first published on July 20, 2010.