Many of us look forward to the summer. It represents a time to get away from our usual schedules. It affords opportunity to travel, take time off, and relax. Unfortunately, for many of us, our time for leisure soon becomes so packed that we find ourselves burning the candle at both ends. We stay up late, we wake up early. We have too many obligations and we must work hard to accomplish everything we set out to do in order to relax. In the end, our time of rest is anything but refreshing.
In Exodus 20 the Bible states: 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
The purpose of rest is twofold, first it is so we can recuperate from our efforts, second it is so we can take time to worship God.
In Mark 6 just before feeding the 5,000 Jesus and his disciples leave one crowd in order to rest. Rest re-engerizes us. It allows us to remain effective in our tasks.
Today we often find ourselves not just in need of physical rest, but we also find ourselves in need of refreshing for our souls. We become burdened with responsibilities. We become weighed down with emotional burdens as we cope with difficult situations in life. We struggle to make ends meet financially. We find ourselves in relationship trouble. We want to please people around us by saying yes to too many obligations.
The Bible also speaks of this kind of rest.
Psalm 4:8 reminds us that our lives can be trusted to God. It reads, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Matthew 11:28-30 reads: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Just before the Israelites leave Sinai after escaping from Egypt, God tells Moses that he will also give him rest. Exodus 33:14 says, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
In all these verses, the rest that is proclaimed is rest for the soul. And in each verse the rest comes as a result of trusting in God.
This summer, what are you doing to ensure that you are getting some legitimate rest? Rest for your body and soul? Are you packing the schedule so tight that you are running ragged? If so, let go of some things. Are you trying in your own strength to make ends meet, to control all the problems around you, or to bear all of your burdens? If so, trust God for provision, strength, and comfort even when situations are difficult.
This summer, relax. Don’t try to do it all, but take some time to simply just be.
“We all need time to rest so that our bodies can heal, so that our minds can be renewed, and so that we will have the strength to continue moving through life.”