Sunday, May 18, 2008

The work of rest

Sabbath. Rest. A day off. You wouldn't think that you'd have to command something like that, would you? But anyone with a toddler who's too tired to see straight knows that you do. We 21st century people have taken it to a whole new level. We actually brag about how little sleep we need. And see it as a mark of maturity or ability if someone needs less sleep than we do. Find out that someone actually gets more than 8 hours a night or...gasp!...naps frequently and watch us all look at them like the lazy bums they are, right?

But the Bible is clear. God invites us to rest...Matthew 11:28. He gives us rest...Exodus 33:14. He commands that we rest...Exodus 20:8-11. But in one passage God makes very clear what's at stake and what our response usually is...
Isaiah 30:15...
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." But you were unwilling...
Israel was meant to turn from other nations and turn from striving to protect, uphold and maintain the life they wanted. They wouldn't rest in the Lord. That's me. Unwilling. Unwilling to believe that it will all hold together without me. Unwilling to be still before the Lord and actually think large, weighty, heavy thoughts. Unwilling to lay aside my cares and concerns and simply rest in the Lord to care for it all. Unwilling to turn aside from upholding my world to rest in the Lord's sovereign care. Sabbath rest is a declaration to the world that we are not in charge and not in need. They must work to maintain their life. We trust not in this world but in God. We can lay our lives aside. God will take care of us all.

This doesn't mean that I don't help someone in need. (I'm sure the Richardson's could still use a hand today!) Or feed my family. Or play. Or take a walk or a few blocks. But what it does mean is expressed so well in a posting by pastor Ray Ortlund, Jr. from Immanuel Church in Nashville. Join me while I seek to do a better job at the work of rest.

"So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God."

1 Corinthians 10:31

On this day, my usual Monday day off, I will glorify God by redirecting my trust in him from work to rest. I work by faith in him, I rest by faith in him. On this day of rest, by his grace, I will ease back on the throttle, trusting in his all-sufficiency. I will pay more attention to my wonderful wife, mow the lawn, ignore my cell phone, try (at least) not to fuss in my mind, take a drive with Jani at dusk along the Natchez Trace Parkway to see if the deer are out, not shave, wear jeans, enjoy Camaros on youtube, linger over the Bible for an especially long quiet time, think carefree thoughts all day long -- in general, just let the world go by with a Sabbath-faith in God while knowing that tomorrow morning my work will be cheerfully waiting for me, demanding my full attention again, as it should, but none the worse for having had to wait.

It's Monday. I will glorify God.

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