Slow Down and Rest

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter.

I don’t know about you, but rest is not something that comes naturally to me. I like to go, go , GO - always going somewhere or doing something. In many ways it’s been a blessing; my instincts have taken me across the globe - Costa Rica, Canada, Israel, Jordan, England, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, and South Africa - on a number of unforgettable adventures. My choice to ignore the need to rest has also had some serious consequences; back in 2013 I spent nearly a month in the Mayo Clinic’s Chronic Pain Rehabilitation (PRC) Program, where I learned that people who go, go go and don’t stop to rest and relax are prime candidates to develop chronic pain. Our bodies (and minds for that matter) weren’t designed to be under non-stop stress.

Spiritually, I grew up in a Christian religious tradition that taught grace on Sunday morning in church, but once outside those doors the message became “Keep those Dutch fronts looking good!” In other words, God was not unlike Santa Claus, making a list and checking it twice because he knew if I was naughty or nice. Looking back I think this constant pressure to perform in God’s eyes is what made many people in the church so joyless and rigid. Some (like me at one point) realized it was impossible and just gave up.

I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Israel three times in my life (1992, 2005, and 2009). On my second trip I remember walking through the old city where so many Orthodox Jews lived with my good friend Joel. He asked if I noticed how grim the Orthodox Jewish men looked. “Why are they?” I responded. “Imagine if you woke up every morning and had over 600 laws you had to keep; you’d be pretty grumpy too!”

God rested on the 7th day; we were meant to rest as well. This is easy to say, but for some reason so hard to do!!! Max Lucado writes about this in his devotional “Slow Down and Rest.” He writes:

No, God says. One day of the week you will say no to work and yes to worship. You will slow down and sit down and lie down and rest. Still we object. We offer up one reason after another. God’s message is plain: “If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.” Repeat these words: It is not my job to run the world!

I loved that last part - It’s not my job or your job to run the world! As a parent of young kids it sure does feel that way sometimes, doesn’t it?!? However, Max is spot-on - even us parents need to be reminded that God is in control. Want to do something bold and courageous in your faith this week? Stop - and rest in Jesus!