The Lord gives good gifts. Few people would likely disagree with this claim. He gives love, grace, and mercy-seen most perfectly in the gift of His Son. He not only gives these things, but the Bible says that “He lavishes” them on His children (Deut. 7:9).
In the midst of all of the good gifts that the Lord gives, it is easy to overlook the gift of rest.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rest as “freedom from activity or labor.” Doesn’t that sound good? Who wouldn’t want freedom from the seemingly endless funnel of projects and assignments? So why don’t we make the most of the God-given gift of rest?
The “I Can Do It” Mentality
If we are honest, there are times when we, by our actions, communicate that we can do this life on our own. “I got this,” we say. While this may sound crazy, we believe this when we do not make time for rest. The example of God in creation sufficiently counters this claim. He made time to rest, (Gen.2:2-3; Ex.20:11). We should follow this model- after all, the schedule we face, although often difficult and busy, doesn’t exactly compare to what the Lord was at work doing those first 6 days. As a result, we must confess and repent of the “I can do it” mentality.
The Lord’s command to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy is not an excuse to watch Netflix all day. Granted, there are numerous fantastic television shows out there these days, but there is a line that must be drawn between rest and laziness. Yes, sometimes we just need a few hours of brainless activity to relax and regroup after a long day at work. At the same time, we must be careful not to forfeit discipline.
When we do not rest well, we are ultimately bypassing the God-given means of finding joy, guidance, and fulfillment from the Lord.
This neglect creates more opportunities for our hearts to be lead by something else. We must be disciplined disciples. Don’t let laziness be your compass because the result will be harmful for you and those you lead.
Ministry is hard. Just think about it for a moment. We spend hours every day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks each year around broken people just like ourselves. We invest and we invite. We encourage and we counsel. We care and we call out. We give our time, money, and our whole selves to this cause. We quickly learn that ministry leaves its fair share of scars. Unfortunately, in the midst of the calling we’ve been given, we often take it upon ourselves to do everything. If we aren’t careful, we’ll refuse the gift of rest because we refuse to say “No.” Jesus isn’t asking us to approach ministry like the Energizer Bunny. He is asking us to be faithful. We must learn to say “No” to doing everything by ourselves. Let rest assist in healing the scars that ministry can cause. For these, and other, reasons we are prone to neglect rest. Sadly, like all idols, we fail to realize that they always over promise and under deliver. We must embrace the God-given gift of rest. How do we do this?
We should desire to be productive; however, productivity doesn’t always require activity. A guy, we’ll call him Luke, injured himself on the basketball court and was temporarily blinded in one eye. His doctor prescribed him a week of bed rest. He couldn’t stand not being able to run around and participate in the activities he normally could. He couldn’t even read the Bible! During that time, his youth pastor would come to his house every day and read the Bible to him. Luke was transformed by that experience, as the Lord used rest to teach Him the value of loving him wholeheartedly. We should accept that rest, whether a week spent trapped in bed or spending a few hours doing something we love, is from the Lord (Deut. 3:20; 2 Sam. 7:1; 1 Kings 5:4).
Maybe your friends often make fun of the fact that your calendar is color-coded. Planning our time helps us make the most of the hours God has given us. Gold may not be the color you use to indicate rest, but you better be sure that there is adequate margin for rest on your schedule. Rest may look a little different for us all. A few practical ways we can engage in this gift include: • Journaling while listening to Explosions in the Sky, • Walking around the neighborhood asking God what He wants to show you, • Walking nine holes of golf while praying for those you love, • Asking your spouse to watch the kids long enough to get away for a few hours
Don’t deny the freedom Jesus has given us in rest. Accept it. Plan it. If you do, you may find that you’ve been missing out on one of God’s greatest gifts.
Published July 20, 2015