Rest in the New Year
For many of us, weekdays are so busy that the weekends become a time to run errands and catch up on projects. Sundays can become a robotic day of church service followed by squeezing in as many activities as possible. And if you are a business owner, it can easily become another workday.
Last year, God told my husband and me to “take it easy on Sundays”. Even though we know abstaining from work every Sabbath has tremendous blessings, it still isn’t easy. Committing to not working on Sundays can be scary, and cause thoughts of worry and dread. It became critical for us to ask God for help and grace in what He was asking us to do. We would need Him to help us lay aside our egos, pride and ambition. We would need discipline to slow down for a Sabbath rest, to be still and know that He is in charge.
This New Year, I want to encourage you to examine your Sunday routine and look for ways to make it restful and relaxing. Here are five lessons my husband and I have learned by choosing to observe the Sabbath:
God rested, and so should you
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” (Genesis 2:3, New International Version)
If you are anything like us, thinking of rest on Sundays immediately brings thoughts of why it is impractical. Maybe you don’t feel tired, think you have too much to do, or simply don’t want to take a day off. Whatever excuses you come up with, the fact is that God rested on the seventh day of Creation. God set an example for us, He rested and so should we.
God commands rest
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:9-10, NIV)
The Sabbath is a day to set aside our productivity, and focus on what God is doing all around us. It is a time to rest and abstain from work and labors. If you are an employer, you may consider allowing your employees to also rest from work. Not everyone has the opportunity to rest on Sunday, some work situations and obligations can be out of our control. If this is you, consider setting aside a different day to rest.
Keeping the Sabbath teaches us to trust God. He blessed, sanctified, and set apart the seventh day of the week. God did not create the Sabbath to be a burdensome law, but rather a gift. A day with clear limits in which you do no work trains you to rest in God as He restores your soul.
You actually need rest
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
It is a scientific fact that the human brain and body can only take so much activity before breaking down. Keeping a Sabbath day to honor Him is necessary for personal rest, renewal, and recovery. The vast majority of us are overworked, stressed, and burnt out. Stress is hard on the body, and it is not God’s intention to push us to exhaustion. Whether you think so or not, you need to rest on Sundays.
Rest is needed for prayer
“He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3, NIV)
Many of us are so busy that we feel we do not have time to pray, read, or meditate. God created the Sabbath to be a spiritually refreshing and enjoyable experience. It’s a day to pause from our normal routines, allowing us an opportunity to hear God speak. He did not just create the Sabbath so that we could stay home throughout the entire day. Sundays are important as a time of rest in prayer and meditation, both within the body of Christ and personally. God designed the seventh day as a day of assembly to hear biblical messages, worship Him and fellowship.
Rest hands control over to God
“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:14-15, NIV)
On the Sabbath, we let go of control and hand it over to God. It is important to realize that our identity is not wrapped up in the things we accomplish or don’t accomplish. The world is not on our shoulders; we can rest and know that God will take care of us and those around us. Even if we don’t get our weekly “to do list” done, He gives us grace. We aren’t alone, everything doesn’t depend on us, He works all things together for our good.
In 2017, consider rest. If you think about it, it’s really a beautiful thing that God commands us to rest. He is a loving Father who knows and desires what is best for us. We can keep His day holy by setting aside the “to-do list” and enjoying some rest. Cut out unnecessary shopping and errands and make a day of quiet, rest, fun, prayer, friends, and family.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.