Finding Rest In The Lord

 
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I remember when fatigue became normal for me. It became normal to go to bed exhausted and wake up just as exhausted no matter how long I slept. I wish I could say I was the exception, but we live in a restless generation. Many are exhausted and tired from over-working but don’t know how to rest or know that they’re supposed to rest. As a result they’re burning out and crashing inside. We all know something needs to change but it seems that rest keeps evading us while our schedules become busier and busier. Thankfully, there’s a solution!

As our Creator, God knows our limits and our need for rest. He is a good God who sincerely cares for our well-being! That’s why He designed a weekly rhythm for us called the Sabbath, which simply means “rest” in Hebrew. In the beginning of time and Creation, God modeled rest for us when He rested on the seventh day (Gen 2:3). He intended for us to have a full day of rest each week so we could enjoy Him and the gift of life He gave us! So many people feel guilty of being lazy or unproductive for taking rests, but even Jesus took naps. In fact, He invited His disciples to get away with Him to places where they could recharge and be unbothered (Mk 6:31). If you think rest is an option, it’s not - it’s a divine command. In order for you to have a full life and productive longevity, you absolutely cannot skip out on rest. That’s why God even commanded rest as the fourth commandment in the Ten Commandments! He commanded this for our good, so we would live as free people and not as slaves to our schedules (Deut 5:12-15). He wants us to be healthy and full of life in every aspect, to be replenished not only spiritually, but also physically, mentally, and emotionally. Today He invites us to rest in Him.

So here’s the million dollar question: how do you rest?

First of all, recognize that true rest is found only in the Presence of Jesus. The world offers vacations and other physical remedies as surface-level solutions, but where do you go when you need rest for your soul? Jesus said “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.” (Matt 11:29-30). I love how Jesus referred to Himself as “The Lord of the Sabbath” just a couple verses after His invitation to the weary (Matt 12:8). By calling Himself the “Lord of the Sabbath,” He was literally calling Himself “The Lord of the Rest!” King David understood this, that God alone was the true source for rest. He wrote, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Ps 23:1-3). The Presence of God is the answer our restless hearts are searching for! We can spend all the time in the world vacationing and watching TV shows and lying idle, but apart from God’s Presence, our hearts will not be quenched. It’s the Presence of Jesus that gives life to our souls and rejuvenates our spirits. On your day of rest, it is imperative that you immerse yourself in the Word of God and commune with Him through prayer. His Word is our Daily Bread, His Spirit is our Living Water, and worship is the vehicle that gets us into His Presence. If you truly want your soul to find newness and life, you must revolve your day of rest around Jesus!

Secondly, the way we rest is by preparing to rest. Rest is intentional! It doesn’t happen on accident. A rest plan must be carefully thought out and planned in advance. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Deut 5:13). If you want to create a regular rhythm of rest, you must have a responsible rhythm of work. In the Bible, there was an actual day called “the Day of Preparation” when God’s people would work hard on the sixth day to finish their remaining work so they could prepare to rest the next day on the Sabbath (Luke 23:54; John 19:31). Rest without work is laziness. If you want to rest, you must be faithful to steward your responsibilities during the times you do work. That way, you won’t feel pressured to play catch-up on your rest day. In addition to faithfulness, plan ahead and choose one day in the week that you can regularly rest. Your Sabbath Day doesn’t have to be a Sunday! Choose a day that realistically and regularly works for you and your schedule.

Thirdly, when your rest day comes, stop working! This is very important. “On it [on the Sabbath] you shall not do any work, 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 or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you” (Deut 5:14). Ceasing to work is our way of humbling ourselves, declaring that God will uphold our lives and keep it afloat even when we stop! When we stop working, we are acknowledging that we are not God. It is our way of admitting that we are fragile and finite, and in need of rest. Stopping is an act of faith because many times, there are so many things that are unfinished on our to-do lists. There will always be more things to finish and deadlines to meet. If our resting is dependent on the completion of our to-do lists, we will never get to rest. Instead of letting our schedule control us, we must control our schedule and trust in God! Plan and incorporate margins of rest into your schedule by stopping work-activity once your day of Sabbath comes.

Lastly, do something that fills you! “What do we do to replace all we are now stopping during our Sabbath time? The answer is simple: whatever delights and replenishes you” (Pete Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality). Do the things that give you life, and avoid the things that drain you. On your day of rest, avoid any work that would deplete you. Focus on doing the things that fill your cup. As long as it’s not sinful, anything’s fair game! This is the one day of the week that you can deviate from the norm of work to do what instead fills your heart! If you’re an introvert, spend some time recharging alone in nature or spend a day indoors. If you’re an extrovert, avoid places like libraries and spend some time with your favorite people! The way each person rests may look different, but the point is to do something that would cause you to feel refreshed and glorify God as a result.

We don’t rest because work is bad. In fact, rest should make us even more fruitful in our work. We rest because rest allows us to enjoy God and honor our limits and God’s design for us as finite beings. Rest allows us to enjoy work and glorify God when we do work. May we labor and serve God’s Kingdom with all our might, but learn how to rest so we sustain our pace for the long run! Thank You Jesus, You are our rest!

Joshua Chun (@joshwchun) is the College & Young Adult Pastor at San Diego Calvary Korean Church. He received his B.A. in Biblical Studies from Life Pacific College and loves studying and teaching the Bible. Recently he’s been growing in his passion for emotional and spiritual health! He also might have a slight Chick-fil-A addiction.

 
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