This past weekend I spent a couple of days in the mountains with my Bible study group. My goal for the trip was to have no agenda, but that’s hard for me because I’m a planer by nature. A few weeks before our trip, I started thinking that maybe on Saturday, we would go into town and eat somewhere, maybe walk around the shops.
The closer it got to the time for our trip, the worse the weather forecast got. By the time we left to go, the forecast for Saturday in Bryson City was rain and a low of 26 degrees! Not walking around downtown weather for me.
Needless to say, we never left the retreat center, except for a couple of runs to the grocery store. And I think that is exactly what God intended. We needed time to rest in His presence, not run here and there as we are so programmed to do.
The Balance of Work and Rest
I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to bet you wear a lot of hats: maybe wife, mama, daughter, sister, friend, church worker, employee or employer, neighbor, and on and on. We have so many responsibilities, we keep the planner creators in business–making those lists and checking them twice.
I believe that hard work is a noble thing. In fact, the Bible has more to say about work than it does about rest, so I’m not downplaying our role as workers.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”Colossians 3:23, NIV
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you.”1 Thessalonians 5:12
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”Proverbs 31:17
Work can be holy.
But, God has also given us guidelines for rest. The problem is that most of us feel guilty for taking time to rest. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor. Some of us find our fulfillment in accomplishments or a job well done; therefore, stopping to rest may sometimes feel like failure.
It didn’t to God.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had done.”Genesis 2:2-3
Don’t you love that? God surely didn’t need a rest. He took a rest because He wanted us to look to Him as our example. And then He commanded it:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.”Exodus 20:8-10a
Rest is holy.
The word Sabbath means “rest,” and God has set aside a day for us to rest from all our work. What we have to remember as women is that the work we do at home, at church, or in our community is still work. And we need a break from it.
But more than just the rest from our physical labor, we also need a soul rest. Even when we aren’t doing physical work, most of the time we are still striving in our minds, wills, or emotions, and they need a rest as well.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your 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.”Matthew 11:28
How do we find rest for our souls? By spending time in the presence of Jesus, sitting at His feet, soaking up His Word.
The Hebrew word for rest in the Old Testament means to be silent and still. I love that, because in our fast-paced world, sometimes what we call rest is just a lack of work, but it’s still not really rest.
You know–like going to the mountains, but eating out and going shopping. God said, “No ma’am. I called y’all away to rest.” (Yes, Jesus is Southern). So He made it cold enough to keep us still and at His feet.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”Psalm 46:10
You know what happened when we got still at that retreat center? God showed up. He came and met us right there and poured beautiful soul rest into us.
My friend, God calls us to kingdom work. And He also calls us to sabbath rest.
Our job is to find the balance. If you spend your Sundays not doing your usual “job” but still working all day, I humbly suggest that you make a decision this week to just stop. Just stop. Be still. A friend of mine used to say after church on Sundays that he was going home to lie before the Lord. He meant with his eyes closed.
A nap can be holy.
Maybe you, like me, spend a good bit of your Sundays in ministry at church and, therefore, not very still. Maybe you get physical rest on Sundays, but you are desperately in need of a soul rest.
Some time away can also be a very refreshing time before the Lord. I don’t mean a vacation. I mean find a couple of days to get away–no shopping or eating out–and just spend some time at the feet of Jesus.
And don’t be afraid of the silence.
“But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”Habakkuk 2:20
Silence can be holy, too.