Permission to Rest

This Summer I had the great opportunity and privilege to go on a 10-week sabbatical. For 70 glorious days, I was freed up from my responsibilities as the Lead Pastor of Connection Church to spend time away from ministry so I could rest, renew, and refocus. I had way too much fun and I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. You might be thinking, I wish I had 10 weeks off from work. I know, if I wasn’t me I’d be envious too.

However, I have a hunch about some of us…we know we need to rest, we know we need to slow down, but we never actually get around to it. The rhythm of our lives is to work hard all week at our jobs or in our homes and then we spend our weekends driving from one practice, game or recital to the next, cleaning, tackling that pile of laundry, cutting the grass, squeezing in church and maybe a social gathering and then start all over again on Monday. Sure, we want to rest but who has time for that?

I’m not sure when it started to become a badge of honor to go 1,000 miles an hour through life. Have you noticed that some people love to tell you how busy they are and how much they’re doing? I understand we all have unavoidably busy times of life. I mean right now, every teacher (and parent) I know is facing the craziest school year ever. There are times when your boss requires you to work weekends to finish a project. But often it’s not just that we are in a busy season, it’s that we suffer from a chronic busyness. I wonder if some people don’t slow down because they’ve built their sense of self and identity on how busy they are? I wonder if some people don’t slow down because they are afraid to discover what’s going on internally if they took an hour of solitude without movement, media, or music?

I know we all can’t take 10 weeks off but I think all of us can ask ourselves a really important question: When do I rest? When do I stop doing and start being?

The story of Creation contains six days of God working and one day of Him resting. Genesis 2:2-3 says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 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.”

Isn’t it wild that God rested? Isn’t it amazing that the day he rested was called holy? God said the 7th day was supposed to feel different and be set apart from work. Isn’t it at least fair and intellectually honest to ask, if God rested after six days of working, shouldn’t we?

I just want you to know that God has given you permission to rest. In fact, he created a whole day just for you to worship Him and rest in Him. Real rest isn’t just taking a break from our labor, it’s also recognizing that because of what Christ has done, we can rest in Him. I think your life would change if you took one day a week and didn’t give in to the temptation to produce and accomplish. Yes, you have to plan for it. Yes, you will be tempted to “get stuff done.” Yes, you will have to battle against the lie that you’re being lazy. Yes, you will have to say no to some things and maybe even disappoint your kids because rest is more important than another day at the baseball diamond or dance studio.

God has created us to live by a weekly rhythm of work and rest. Don’t resist this good gift he’s provided for you.
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