It seems like our lives are often dominated by busyness. And around this time of year, when our New Year’s resolutions are at the front of our minds, it’s easy to tell ourselves that there’s more that we need to take on. The truth is that often, the mindset of needing to do more isn’t always healthy for us: not mentally, not physically, and not spiritually.
Did you know that rest is important to God? I think that if it’s something important to Him, it needs to be something that we give more focus to. So, I have an idea: can we make a resolution to rest?
That’s going to be difficult, I know, so below are four statements that I think are going to be helpful when the temptation comes to work, work, and keep working, when what God wants from us is for us to cease working for a time, step away from everything, and take a break.
- Because God deems rest as something important, I will rest. He sets an example for us in the Creation of the world: He worked for six days, and rested on the seventh. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8) is the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments, and it’s based off of the example God set in Genesis. To keep the Sabbath day holy is to set it apart from the other six days. That means that the other six days of the week can be spent working, but the seventh day is set apart — kept holy — because it is set aside for rest.
- Because I can only pour out so much before I am empty, I will rest. We have to take time and step back to recharge, study, pray, and be refilled. Think about breathing — in the same way that we can’t exhale and inhale at the same time, it’s difficult to take things in as we pour ourselves out. Just as inhaling and exhaling are set apart from each other, we need to set aside time to be filled up, and time to pour out to others.
- Because my strength and salvation are found in rest, I will rest. This is from Isaiah 30:15, where it says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” “Repentance,” in this particular passage, translates to “withdrawal” or “retirement.” “Rest” means “rest,” but there’s a connotation of quietness as well. “Quietness” means to be quiet, or to be tranquil. It seems to me that this passage points us back to stepping away from work for a while and sitting in peace, trust, and tranquility. In those things we find our strength and salvation. This was something the Israelites, who Isaiah 30:15 was directed toward, didn’t grasp. But God is clear: strength and salvation are found in taking time to breathe, rest, and reflect.
- I will not feel guilt over time that I set aside to rest, and I will guard my Sabbath day. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of “I need to be doing something right now.” You have six other days to get work done, so work on those days. Your house will probably be just as messy on a Sabbath as it will be the next day, so take care of it then. Also, there may be the temptation to fill our Sabbath days with things that don’t give us rest. You’re not under an obligation to do things on the Sabbath in which you don’t find peace and tranquility. Guard yourself against those things.
Typically, we think of Saturdays as our Sabbath day, and that’s okay. But if that doesn’t work for you, Scripture doesn’t seem to indicate that it’s mandatory to observe the Sabbath on a Saturday — just that we do take time to stop our work from time to time. If you have a Tuesday off from class or work, use that time to rest.
Also, you may be asking, “How do I rest?” I once heard a pastor say that on his Sabbath, he simply asks God something along the lines of, “What do you want to do today?” And sometimes, that answer involves him spending time with his family at a park. For you, it may mean that you go read in a quiet room for a few hours.
There’s no wrong way to observe the Sabbath, so long as we do things that bring us peace and restore our souls. The Sabbath was intended to be a blessing to us, and I think that it holds very practical purposes as well. We need to get into the mindset that it really is okay to not always be doing something, and that can be good for us. There’s time to get work done, yes, but there can — and should — also be time to relax and be recharged. So, are you willing to make a resolution to rest?