Photo copyright 2004 Elaine Baird
This past week, we began a new worship series at Ashworth Road entitled “The Lost Art: Recapturing spiritual disciplines that strengthen faith.” We started this with a message about Sabbath, the importance of finding times of rest. In our society, it is not uncommon for us to run ourselves ragged, way past the point of exhaustion, to show our value to an organization, to keep others from showing us up, to provide stuff we think makes our families happier, as well as a myriad of other reasons.
God commands us to rest, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 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 20:8-10 NLT) Unfortunately, many times we view this commandment as yet another way for God to take away all our fun. But in reality, this commandment is simply a way for God to protect us from ourselves. He created us. He knows us. And he knows that WE NEED REST! We need the refreshing that can come when we stop working. We need the peace we can find when we cease the normal activity and routine of our lives.
When we refuse to rest, we risk burn out, damage to ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and harm to our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We must stop begrudging God’s instruction to rest. We must see it for what it truly is: a gift from God that is his way for us to refresh ourselves, enjoy life, our families, and him.
Rest was modeled for us by God himself in creation when he rested on the seventh day (see Genesis 2) . It continued to be modeled for us by Jesus, God in flesh, when he would retreat for moments of rest. (see Mark 6:31 for one example of this.) Wayne Muller in his book “Sabbath” writes, “When we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us comfort. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight.” (Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives (New York, NY: Bantam, 2000))
So, get some rest. Remember to take time from your normal work routine to stop and rest. Enjoy time with God and family and discover the blessing of Sabbath rest.
P.S. After preaching this message Sunday, Matthew Pierce shared with me the picture you see above. Pierce’s job requires him to work long hours for extended periods of time. Working 80 hours a week during these periods are considered light! Rest isn’t always an option for him during these periods. The picture you see above is of Pierce. During one of his extended work sessions, he thought it would be funny to lay down on some boxes as a joke. The problem…he was so exhausted he actually fell asleep (as he had been up for three days straight). One of the graphic artists there made the photo into a “demotivational” poster and it is still passed around to this day when they are looking at working long hours again.