God established the pattern in His creation order—working for six days and resting on the seventh. Now remember, God had no need to rest seeing as how He doesn’t faint nor grows weary. So, what was He doing? He was creating something for us—a day of rest.
God commands us to hit the pause button—to take a break.
And God is serious about this rest. In case you have forgot, read the consequences He outlines for profaning the Sabbath in Exodus 31:14. And He doesn’t seem to let this issue fade away. By the time we get to the NT, we find the writer of Hebrews mentioning that “a rest still remains for the people of God.” We know they are primarily referring to resting or refraining from works of righteousness in order to justify ourselves before God; we must trust Christ and Christ alone for such an act. But the principle God set forth concerning rest isn’t done away with. When God wove it into the order of creation, He set forth a principle that would last all earthly days—not only do we need to work and create, we need rest. But doesn’t He know how many people are depending on us and our work? On our busyness? Doesn’t He know our schedules and how our joy is wrapped up in them? He does, of course. And that is precisely why He commands for us to rest.
God as Provider
When God first gave His people this command, there were no other societies who took a day off. In order to survive, you couldn’t. Yet God commands His people to take a day of rest. Something that could potentially hurt them, put them behind, and impact their natural lives in a significant and negative way.
But we know the Lord commands His people for their good and His glory.
The Lord wants to remind His people that He assumes the responsibility of providing for them. That, even when they took a day off from working to rest and honor God, they would still be provided for and would not experience loss. Why? Because God is their Provider.
God has set up the world so that the bulk of our provision comes from the work we do. We punch the time card Monday through Friday and receive compensation for our toil. It is easy to assume that we are the ones who bear the responsibility of taking care of ourselves. After all, we are doing the hard work, putting the time in, and it is our sweat that is dripping onto the ground. But this is simply not true. We don’t bear that responsibility—God does. God provides through our work and toil, and we should not forget that it is, in fact, Him providing. He commands us to take a day of rest so that we remember and declare that He is our Provider.
Reminded of the Point of Our Lives
So many in our culture seek to find purpose and meaning through and in their jobs. If not directly, then indirectly. By taking what our jobs provide us—namely, money—and trying to use that to obtain some semblance of meaning, purpose, and joy in their life. Every person has their own idea of what a successful life looks like. And we can get caught up in trying to make that vision come to life—as if our happiness depends upon it. Working hard and trying to build a culturally successful life is not evil. It is even commendable the majority of the time. But it is not the point of our lives. God commands us to rest so we can remember the point of our lives—to know, enjoy, serve, and bring glory to God.
The point of our lives is not whatever our culture is seeking to shove down our throats. We were made for God. And taking a break from our normal, culturally relevant routine is healthy for our soul. This break, this rest, helps us remember that we were made for something bigger—for God. It helps us remember that our search for purpose, meaning, and joy doesn’t need to continue; we have found all those through our relationship with Christ.
Putting It Into Practice
Here are some practical tips on how to rest well. And it is easier said than done. Our lives are complex and busy. There will be interruptions, schedules will change, and last-minute appointments will surely pop up. But the issue of rest is too important. We should not simply say, "If it happens, it happens. If not, no big deal." It is a big deal. God commands us to hit the pause button.
Rest. Make sure when you carve out time for rest that your routine is different. Try to ensure that the time isn’t jam-packed full of responsibilities. This doesn’t mean you simply get to do nothing, or that your kids will transform into perfectly behaved angelic toddlers for the day, but your time of rest should look different than the rest of your week. Our time of rest is a time to be rather than a time to do. Be a dad, be a husband, be a mom, be a wife, be a child of God. Meaning, enjoy those things. For me, my time of rest includes chasing around my little girl and blowing raspberries on her belly. In this act, I am being a dad. I am probably enjoying this more than her. Find out what you enjoy; what makes you happy to be alive. And be those things during your time of rest.
Another crucial aspect and practical help in resting is to unplug from technology. It’s hard to break our normal routines when our phones are in our hands, our laptops are in front of our faces, and the TV is blaring. And if we are honest, we do those things everyday and still complain about how tired and in need of rest we are. If those activities brought rest to our souls, we would not say such things. But they really don’t. They may serve as distractions, but don’t do much to refresh our souls. That often comes from meaningful conversations, observing and enjoying the beauty of God’s created world, and some type of recreation. Our times of rest should include such things. It is not simply a time to sit on the couch, be silent, and watch TV with your family. There may be times where such a thing is appropriate—like a family move night—but often we would be better served by taking a break from technology as well.
Relax. For some, images of recliners and full bellies come to mind. No laundry to fold, no meals to cook, and nothing to clean. And I get it—that does sound relaxing. But here is what I am meaning. To ensure that your time of rest is truly relaxing, you may need to do some planning and guarding. In order to truly relax, you will need to make sure your time of rest is not simply comprised of an hour here and an hour there. You will not even give yourself enough of a break to relax. Your mind will wander to what you have to do when your rest time is up. In short, you need to plan some extended periods of rest. There is a reason why the Lord decided a day of rest. We need some time to disengage and give our mind some distance from the growing list of responsibilities and work we need to complete.
Once you have decided what day and time works best for you and your family, guard that time. Don’t let non-emergency situations disrupt your commitment to rest, enjoy your family, and, ultimately, enjoy God.
Most phone calls and texts can wait, those emails aren’t going anywhere, and, in all honesty, you are not so important that the world will crumble if you take 5-8 hours to rest and go off the grid.
Implied in God’s command to rest, the Lord says He will take care of things we cannot if we rest and trust in Him. Additionally, it is crucial that our kids see and experience this. All too often what is modeled before them is a chaotic and frenetic pace of life. They have no concept of what it is to slow down, appreciate God’s creation, and respond with thankfulness.
Reflect. Your time of rest should include some meditation on the Scriptures, prayer, and thoughtfulness concerning the important issues of life. You may find this the appropriate time—when taking a break from the normal stressors of life—to discuss with your spouse such things as your marriage, parenting approach, how your family is advancing the Kingdom of God, and other issues like that. We should also reflect on how blessed we are as we enjoy our rest. How gracious of God to command us to rest; to command us to trust Him! How merciful of Him to assume the responsibility and bear the weight of providing for us.
Your rest time will usually provide some excellent opportunities to point your own and your families hearts’ towards God. Hearing laughter from your kids? Simply remark, “How awesome is it that God created us and gave us laughter?!” Are you enjoying a favorite meal or snack during your rest time? Reflect on God’s creativity to offer us so many different tastes and then creating us with the taste buds to experience them. Hopefully you get what I am driving at. Your reflection doesn’t need to be scheduled out and overly official. It can be woven into your time of rest in an almost natural and spontaneous way.
Know yourself. If you spend all week in a cubicle staring at a computer, it may be wise to include some sort of physical activity in your time of rest. And if your job is jam-packed full of tough, manual labor, you may want to consider a more laid back approach. Be wise. Introverts and extroverts will experience rest and refreshment from different activities. Just because something is restful for your Christian brother or sister, doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be restful for you. I know what will fill my soul—taking my wife and daughter hiking and eating good food. There is something about being in the woods that refreshes my soul, makes me thankful, and points my heart towards the goodness of God. You should know what fills your soul, what fills your spouses soul, and what fills your children’s souls. If you don’t know, ask. Then make a plan to include those things—whether it’s every week or just once in a while—in your time of rest.
A Few Benefits of Resting
Taking time to rest and honor God will impact all the other hours we spend awake. We can often find the thankfulness we feel during our rest time spilling over into the other hours of our week. This makes work more bearable, us more enjoyable people to be around, and presents Christ in a positive light to the unbelievers around us.
Our families will also be strengthened by resting. Our kids need to know God is serious about His commands. And His command to enjoy His presence and enjoy the world He made is no exception. Kids need to see and know that God is serious about their joy. When they see the goodness of God and are in awe of His character, they will be more likely to submit to the Lord concerning other commands.
Some Questions to Get You Going
When is the best time for you and your family to make space for rest?
What do you need to do in order to guard that time?
What activities refresh your soul?
What activities point your heart toward Jesus?
What are the biggest obstacles preventing you from finding intentional time to rest?
What Scriptures should you be meditating on and discussing during your day of rest?