"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."
Come to me and I will give you rest. Oh, there are days when I long for this. Life is busy and busy makes me weary. The burdens of a busy life make me weary.
But it’s not just sleep I yearn for. After a long and hard day it’s not hard to fall into bed and sleep. There is something more missing. Something deeper my heart is craving these days.
Connection to something deeper, more intimate.
Our souls long for a connection to God. To rest in him and to know his peace. God created rest. He even modeled how to do it. Six days he worked and then “…and on the seventh day God rested.” Gen 2:2
So why is it so hard in our culture to rest? I think there are a few reasons why this is so difficult for people today. We are a very driven society. We have created things to make our lives “easier”, but in reality, we have created things to help us be more productive and busier. We are driven and we have placed our value on how much we can accomplish. We have become so good at this. So much so, we have accepted the definition of success based on how much we can get done. When we do get a chance to relax we don’t know how to do it and we become fidgety, restless and grumpy.
I’ll make a confession here; I am a people pleaser and very performance driven. I will work my tail off to serve and care, for others. And I would tell you I am doing it for the Lord, that I don’t need others approval, I just want to serve the Lord. But those would be lies, because deep down I do desire others approval. But here is the biggest lie. I am driven to perform for my Lord and it is His approval I seek.
Friend, before we go any further on our quest for Sabbath, please hear this: HE LOVES YOU. And you don’t need to perform for God. He loved you even before you knew and accepted him. We don’t have time today to go into this further, but know this. God loves you and wants you. And his grace covers us like a warm blanket on a snowy day. This grace is here, reaching out to us in the cup of his hands, for us to accept. If there is anything you have to “do”, is accept this grace.
God created Sabbath. And you might think, whew! I’m sure glad he did because I need a break. I can’t wait for the weekend so I can sleep in and stay in my jammies all day watching TV.
I don’t think that’s what God had in mind though. In Exodus 31:17 the Bible says: “It will be a sign between me and the Israelite forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested."
Many of us see this as the example God gives us of how we should rest. You would be right. And in Exodus 20:8-11 God commands we rest and describes what it is. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. ...Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Our rest should be a holy time with God.
So God created it and even commands us to do it, but we don’t do it do we? We fill our Sabbath days with church but by the afternoon house cleaning, laundry, yard work or odd projects around the house keep us busy. When we do make an attempt to do nothing, it can be hard to shut off that brain.
Spending time in Sabbath with God is hard work. It actually takes an intentional act on our part to spend time with God. So how do we do that? What does that look like?
How do we quiet ourselves to truly be in rest with God?
We’ll keep it simple and prepare ourselves with just a few things. A few spiritual disciplines that will help.
• Praying. Praying will help you begin the process of entering his presence with a reverent heart.
• Reading his Word. Reading God’s word will remind you of his goodness, his love for you and how he blesses you. I suggest starting in Psalms.
• Don’t rush it. We are good at checking off the task list. Sabbath isn’t a task it’s entering the presence of God. It’s the beginning of seeking God.
• You might want to keep a journal handy to write down things God will reveal.
• Have some music of soft hymns playing in the background as well.
Again, remember this a time to enter into a special time with God, don’t make it a personal performance or a thing we make happen.
We've learned that seeking Sabbath is fundamental to spiritual health and even to emotional health, as some medical studies have shown. The word “health” means free from illness or injury and is a derivative of the word “whole”. “Whole” means unbroken or undamaged. I like this definition. If our desire is to seek spiritual wholeness we need to be resting in God.
There is another benefit to resting in Sabbath. When we create space in our lives we have time to be real with God. We connect with him. Questions arise, revelations are seen. As a kid did you ever spend time looking up at the sky daydreaming? Think of this Sabbath time as daydreaming with God. The cool part of daydreaming with God is that God can reveal some awesome things for your life. They don’t have to be big lofty dreams, but I guarantee He will show you things in your everyday life I bet you never noticed that God desires for you to take notice.
For example, as you follow these spiritual disciplines they will actually chase away those things that separate us from God. It will keep us focused on God’s heart and His intentions for our lives.
You may be afraid of quieting yourself. This may take you out of our comfort zone, but as God reveals Himself you will begin to see how much fun you will have spending time with God. Yes, I said fun. God is playful and enjoys our company.
Sabbath keeps us looking toward heaven. Resting in Him will not only bring you pleasure but it will bring God pleasure. There is nothing more exhilarating then feeling God’s pleasure when spending time with Him. Now that’s a great way to get re-energized.