The Importance of Rest
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On this special date of Labor Day that we set aside to celebrate the American hard work ethic that has brought us this far, many of us have the best intentions of getting extra rest. Yet, deliberate relaxation can be challenging for certain personalities!
I remember Labor Day weekends growing up when we had various projects on the agenda. We organized the garage, sorted through outgrown clothes in our closets, and did yardwork in the cooler evening hours, to name a few memories.
As an adult, I continued the same trend. For a day off work, I wrote an unreasonably long to-do list of all I wanted to accomplish. Relaxing felt like a waste of time! Why is it so hard for some of us to rest? The Holy Spirit, as a wonderful Teacher, has been teaching me the value of rest—the art of being still. () After all, it’s what God Himself modeled perfectly for us in the very beginning of Creation’s story. ( )
The Psalmist paints a dramatic display highlighting God’s work. We are drawn into the vivid descriptions of His powerful activities:
“He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners...opens the eyes of the blind...lifts up those who are weighed down...protects the foreigners…[and] cares for the orphans and widows.” (a NLT)
That’s not all!
“The LORD is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name...He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry.” ()
The picturesque illustrations of God’s work continue in Psalm 147, filling us with awe and wonder of all our Maker is actively performing. Still, we remember His established priority of rest, when He refers to that critically important time of resting that He took Himself. ()
Even Jesus emphasized His need for rest after His long days of ministering to people. (, ) He demonstrated the importance of taking time to rest and be alone with His Father. Those were exhausting days for Him, as He (in fleshly form) felt the same fatigue we do. If resting was a necessity for Jesus, how much more so for us!
I’ve personally found the permission to rest by Jesus’ example. In my times of thorough exhaustion, I realized I had been pushing myself too much—something God never intended. Jesus said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ()
How liberating it has been to have a day off work and simply relax—without feeling guilty about it that I’m not conquering my to-do list! What I have discovered is that I’m actually more effective and can accomplish more when I’ve had adequate rest.
Be encouraged to let go of the work-cycle and enjoy Labor Day for what it is!
“Father, I love how You exemplified the importance of resting. With a grateful heart, I receive Your gift of setting aside my work, letting You restore and refresh me as I rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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