Sounds obvious, but for many of us with our helter-skelter lives, taking time off is on our wish-list but not in our diaries. For many Christians, Sunday is considered to be the Sabbath; for a few it may equal proscription: a list of forbidden activities, a day of energy-sapping boredom; but for many others, far from being a day of rest the Sunday-sabbath is often the busiest day of the week.
And for those without any sort of Sunday-sabbath focus, days off are frequently spent catching up with outstanding tasks from the working week, ferrying children around to an array of activities, fulfilling family obligations, and never-ending improvements and maintenance on homes and gardens.
As the numbers of stress-related illnesses soar, the fact is many of us just need a rest. And not solely on an annual holiday, but a regular pattern of rest-days or periods.
The idea of a rhythm of rest and work goes right back to the beginning, when the Lord followed His work of creation with rest.
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.
And Man who was created on the sixth day, when everything else had been accomplished, had as his first day, a day of rest. This is significant because his rest day came before he started on his appointed tasks rather than afterwards!
Sabbath rest is a faith issue, because true rest is rooted in our trust in the provision of God. Only people who know that He is their Source can take their hand from the plough. Only people who know their times and circumstances are in the Lord’s hands can take time off. Only people who know He’s got them covered can rest in the midst of stuff that needs attention.
The challenge to us is to develop our trust in God’s provision, and to set aside specific time at intervals to rest from our work, and be rejuvenated by the presence and blessing of God in a real Sabbath rest.
Maybe two questions arise…..
How do I find the time? and What do I do in my rest-time?
The answer to the first, is to start where you are, with manageable amounts; even ½ hour a week is better than nothing. And in time this rest-time can be extended to one hour, half a day, a full day - or longer!
And we'll explore some answers to the second next time ….....
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