January 19, 2021
Does this sound familiar? You fall into bed and even though you are exhausted you run through the endless lists of tasks for tomorrow. You feel the pressure to keep hustling. Even though many of us are working from home and have limited activities thanks to the global pandemic we are still “striving” to get it all done. Did you know this endless rushing is actually an attack on a spiritual promise of rest God? We are meant to have rest. God not only gives us rest but it is one of the commands in His word. (Exodus 20:8-11) Let’s unpack these three lies we believe about rest so we can reclaim what is rightfully ours.
Hustle harder. Work longer and you will get ahead right? There is something attractive about working hard. I admire people who have a strong drive to succeed. People who seem to be endlessly working to achieve success are seen as heroes. They are often people who have earned influence or notoriety from their endless hustle. The lie they embody is that without maintaining a relentless focus on work we will fail. We are made to work AND to rest. From the very beginning God demonstrated a sustainable rhythm of work and rest. It’s a divine balancing act.
So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:1-2 NLT)
First God completed His creation work then He rested. You might be saying but God FINISHED then He rested. Yes, that is true but he continues His divine work of creation today in every moment. Think about it. Babies are born everyday. A sunrise and sunset mark the days so God is still bringing light and life. However, he finished His six days and then rested and admired what He had done. I think we tell ourselves that if we don’t finish every task then we won’t ever accomplish our goals. We place pressure on ourselves to get to the end of our to-do list.
God told Adam a few verses later to take care of the garden (Genesis 2:15). For anyone who is gardener you know that the tending never ends it just changes with the seasons. The “TENDING” or “WORK” is ongoing! It’s true that the weeds need to be pulled but they will be there in the morning, trust me. We need to understand that work is a natural part of life. We are made to work but not to strive endlessly. God tells us to put limits on work and take a break.
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God… (Exodus 20:9-10 NLT)
We often mistake rest for relaxation. I say “I need a break,” when I really mean I need a massage or spa day. Not that those things are bad. This type of physical and mental self-care is not necessarily the Biblical rest God is talking about. The rest God took on the 7th day is resting from His regular work. Biblical rest is observing an unscheduled, unhurried day, a time set apart to enjoy all the efforts of the week. I have an incredibly difficult time resting when I have piles of laundry and dishes in the sink but sometimes I just leave it for tomorrow and take a walk with the family or watch a movie because that is a way of observing rest. Let me be clear that relaxation CAN be rest but it isn’t the ONLY kind of rest.
Ever heard the phrase, “You can sleep when you are dead?” The irony is that if you choose to deny your body sleep you will in fact die. Your body was designed for rest, and the purpose of rest is restoration. Rest isn’t an activity of the weak it is a practice that brings strength. Consider body builders who don’t take a day off. They are more likely to suffer from overuse injuries and gain plateaus. They stagnate and some even regress. Whereas, body builders who intentionally take time away from the gym have more consistent strength gains and results. The body gets stronger when it is given the opportunity to repair and restore. Rest isn’t weak it is the secret to strength.
These aren’t earth shattering secrets about rest but they are lies we believe that prevent us from receiving the gift of rest. When we believe the lies about rest and consider it just a recommendation from God we set ourselves up to fail and to take over doing our entire life in our own strength. If you struggle like I do to take a break, start by carving out a mini-Sabbath. Begin by taking a few hours to do something different. I have started reading books that are for enjoyment, I might do a puzzle, or take a walk. I choose things that fill my spirit…that is what rest is meant to do. The practice of observing Biblical rest tells the enemy he cannot overrun you with the temptation to endless hustle. Jesus offers His help in finding rest in Matthew 11:28.
I pray this will help you reclaim rest in your life.