As we reflect on Sunday’s message, I want you to think about how many times in conversations this past week either you or someone else in some way made this statement: “I’m tired.” While one can (appropriately) ascertain why a person is tired, it is also right to conclude that the desire beneath that statement is “I want rest.” This should naturally cause us to wonder, “well, what then is rest?”
Based upon what we observe in God’s Word, our rest should be a ceasing from our work and a focused time for us (as those made in God’s image) to remember the character and nature of God. Genesis 2:1-3 shows us that God specifically set apart time to rest (though he never got tired), and passages such as Exodus 20:8 demonstrates that Israel, God’s chosen people, were to imitate God in resting (primarily because people do get tired). Though we do not observe the sabbath like Israel, our rest should be times through which God sanctifies us (Exodus 31:13), that is, to distance us from the world and draw us closer to God.
Seeing what God’s Word tells us about rest, we can conclude that what rest is not; it is not anything that draws our focus away from God. While that can be quantified any number of ways, I want to focus specifically on the idea of laziness in rest. We live in a binge-anything society: watching TV, playing video games, browsing the internet, eating, and even reading—the list can go on. While these things are not inherently bad and can offer some measure of “rest” or “relaxation,” they become problematic when we selfishly look to them as our primary source of rest over God.
In response to Sunday’s message, I have personally been challenged to reevaluate what I do to rest. For instance, rather than pulling up Facebook or YouTube when I have down time, I am seeking instead to spend that time reading through and meditating on God’s Word and praying for others. Furthermore, as one who enjoys taking naps, I can use those moments of respite to remind me of the longing I should have for my future eternal rest with God in His everlasting kingdom. As a final example, I am learning that time spent with other believers is restful not only for me but for my brother/sister in Christ, so now my thoughts about rest should not be strictly personal but also corporate (others-focused).
May we all look to God for our rest, even as Jesus speaking as God’s Son calls to each of us, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)!