3pm. The school bell rings and children explode out of their classrooms headed for home. The school day is done. It’s a strong demarcation to their day. For most of us though we live without the clear delineation of work and rest. The work emails demanding attention can continue to come long after we have left the office, the washing begins to pile up as soon as we think we are on top of it. It can seem like we never stop.
But if we look a little closer we will see evidence of rituals of rest in our lives. It’s the putting on of the favourite sweatshirt that we never leave the house in. It’s the coffee out or the steaming mug of tea at home. It’s the cozying up on the couch with a good book or the duvet day. It’s even on the commute home when we can turn up the music we like loud. It’s us building a little margin in our lives.
From the beginning of time God has demonstrated to us the importance of rest. After creating the world, God created a rest day. Not because He needed it – He neither sleeps nor slumbers but because we need it. Jesus too, would withdraw from the crowds to rest. And even though there were pressing needs, He still made room to rest, and He accomplished all that He was meant to.
In this super charged, fast life that we live in, it goes against the grain in many ways to slow down, to carve out time for us to rest. To create margin for God. But it is in this space that we are refreshed. It is in this space that creativity, that growth in our lives flourishes. Busyness wars against our awareness of God. Rest brings us into His presence.
“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG Bible)
Remember : – to retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)
In Exodus God commands us to remember the Sabbath. Beautiful in its simplicity, it was a call to rest. An opportunity to end, to cease and to pause. Before God gave this to Moses as one of the Ten Commandments the Sabbath existed as an attitude, a principle, a mind-set. It was part of the regular rhythm of life.
“By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.” (Genesis 2:2)
On the Sixth Day, God created man. And on the Seventh Day, God rested. He rested not because He was tired or worn out. He rested to make a statement. Man was created and the very next day man entered rest – God’s rest. Creation was not finished until the Sabbath was created. Rest – the Sabbath was the capstone of creation.
We need to live our lives with an awareness of being in the rest of God. The Sabbath is an invitation, after working diligently, to stand in the space of God and rest in His provision. It is our breathing room, our space, the margin where we can enjoy God. The Rhythm of Grace is living from a place of rest. Rest is renewal. Rest is refreshment. Rest is created by God. We need to remember and live from this place of rest.
“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:9-10)
Tonight, my 4 year old and I stood outside in the early evening to look at the moon and the stars. We paused and made space. And while for my son it was an exciting time looking at the fading sunset and pointing out stars, for me it was an opportunity to stop and to pause and to think of God. A Sabbath moment.
“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers–the moon and the stars you set in place..” (Psalm 8:3)