Probably many of you go to work every day under the same philosophy of work that I do. My philosophy of work is, "Work like it is up to me; pray like it's up to God." I think I speak for many of us when I say we never make it past the semi-colon. We work under the anxiety-provoking misbelief that at work it's all up to us. This means we cannot rest. How could I rest if it was all up to me?
The way we approach work keeps us from ever resting. It's not just work. It's fun things, too. There has always been a spirit whispering into our ears, you need more! More land, more expansion, more money, more power, more square footage, more horsepower, more up, more to the right, more vacation, more music, more TV on demand and on your phone, more apps.
Maybe for you that's not the list. Probably you have your own list of good stuff you feel you need more of. There might not be enough good stuff on your list, but something is whispering to us, Get more of the good stuff. We have a deep fear that there won't be enough good stuff in our lives. Fear of missing out is the sensation that something important is happening, and if we miss it, we will regret it for the rest of our lives, and 50 percent of us report the regular sensation that we are missing out. That's why we rush even when we're having fun.
Before the Bible talks about love, before the Bible talks about forgiveness, and before the Bible talks about prayer, it talks about rest. As the second chapter of the Bible opens, Genesis, chapter 2, says that God saw his creation was good, and he rests. God rested. Jesus, as it turns out, was a Sabbath person. Jesus moved at a Sabbath pace. He thought Sabbath thoughts. He spoke Sabbath words. He was a Sabbath person
I hope you can consider Sabbath practices and integrating them into your life as an option to nurture your connection with Jesus and live a better life. I say all this not as someone who is well rested. I'm not saying, Come and join me! The Sabbath water is great! I say this as a tired soul who has one of the seats.
The Bible mentions love 310 times. That's a major theme and a really important thing in the Bible. The Bible mentions the kingdom of God 162 times. That's probably the major theme in the preaching of Jesus, but the Bible mentions rest 496 times, and it mentions Sabbath 172 times for a grand total of 668 times.
In Matthew, chapter 11, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."
I used to think this verse meant if I was stressed and tired and I stopped in the middle of what I was doing, and I prayed that God would give me more energy... That's a good thing to do, but it's not what this passage says. It says not that God will give you energy; it says that God will give you rest.
Literally, Jesus says, "I will rest you." Regular rest of body, mind, and soul is simply part of following Jesus. Regular rest, it turns out, is also a way more productive way to live. You might have seen that recent study that showed a four-day workweek improves or might improve productivity up to 40 percent, so on behalf of me, take Monday off. Just don't even go in. If you're motivated and diligent, there is a truth about rest here. If you do less, you will get more out of it. This is true in our work lives where we labor under the unhelpful idea that it's all up to us, but it's also true in our private lives when we're just having fun when we think there isn't enough of the good stuff and we’re going to miss out on it.
Rest is a great act of faith. I can miss out on things because Christ really is enough for me. I don't have to be afraid of missing out, because Jesus meets my needs. In truth, Jesus is the only thing that ever satisfied me, and what he provides in my life will really, truly be enough.
I always imagine how God must feel, that he designed a powerful, life-changing gift that humans never, ever enjoyed This huge gift that would have transformed human society and relationships remains still wrapped and under the tree. For us in our world, Sabbath is the same way. This year open the gift! Experiment with the Sabbath. Try resting in this way that God invites us to, this life-giving and grateful way.