“The patients who came to my office never seem rested” wrote Dr. Richard Swenson in his book Margin. “Many people I meet look haggard and worn-out.”
“Often-used expressions of our society include active, busy, driven, fatigued, tired, exhausted, weary, burned out, anxious, over loaded, or stressed. But seldom do you hear our society described as “well rested,” observed Swenson.
Our word of the week is “rest.”
I was thinking about the value of rest while flying back from our annual anniversary trip and blogging break. Norma Jean and I enjoyed the week as we divided it between time with family, especially grandson Miles and our vacationing in New Orleans.
It was good to take a break from our weekly workload. From daily demands. Normal routines. And deadlines, pressures and pressing problems. In the spirit of Ecclesiastes 3, “there is a time to work, and a time to rest.”
Rest is a Bible word and a Biblical concept. The Genesis account of creation offers this insight.
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Gen. 2:2-3).
Under the Old Law, the Sabbath was sanctified as a day of worship, as well as rest. In Exodus 35:2, Moses commanded, “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord.”
In the New Testament, we see Jesus taking time off from his ministry to rest. His first miracle was while he attended a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. (John 2:1-10) Such celebrations in Bible times could last for a week.
During the pressures of Jesus’ ministry, He still found time to rest. To enjoy time alone. Or private time with his apostles. On one occasion Mark records: “And (Jesus) said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. (Mk. 6:31-32).
Dr. Swenson was right, “We are a tired generation. Our carburetors are set on high, and our gears are stuck in overdrive. Our lives are non-stop. We have leisure, but little rest. The pace, the noise, the expectations and the interruptions of modern life have not soothed the soul nor brought refreshment to the burdened spirit.”
This reminds me of another kind of rest referred to in the Bible. It is used in a spiritual sense to speak of relief from the load of emotional cares, from the weight of guilt and the burden of sin. Jesus promised, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30).
The Hebrew writer also uses the concept of the “Canaan rest,” when Israel entered into the promised land and found God’s rest from their wilderness wanderings. He uses that metaphor to speak of an eternal rest promised for God’s faithful. The beloved John expressed it this way: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Rev. 14;13).
Take time to rest. Relax. And refresh your body, mind and emotions. But more importantly, may you find rest from the burden of sin. And enjoy the expectation of an eternal rest with the Lord in heaven!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman