The Sabbath time that we choose each week is to be a time of rest. The Bible states: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Being still both on the inside and the outside allows for us to be in touch with the real “you” who lives on the inside. The often unexamined you. And for some, the unknown you. It also allows us to reconnect with God in very significant ways. It is a holy time dedicated to touching God in fresh ways and giving God time to touch us in even more powerful and dynamic ways.
Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Version).
What is it we will find rest from? What is it we are being “still” and removing ourselves from – so that we can find ourselves, the real ‘who we are,’ once again? Let me suggest a few things…
1> Rest from being hurt … Many of life’s events have the ability to hurt us. Hurt us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Consequences for our actions may stick with us for years afterward. They may be hidden or suppressed for a time, but that does not mean they are gone. Everyone picks up a collection of hurts as the years go by. Disappointment and loss are a part of life. We all hurt each other. We’ve all been hurt. Rest gives our souls the time they need to heal.
2> Rest from heavy labour… Unlike the slaves that God freed from Egypt, most of us do not struggle under heavy manual labour. Manual labour has its own reminder to stop. One can only move bricks so long before muscles cry out for rest. Unfortunately, other types of labour may not remind us of the need to lay down our burdens. What about answering emails, going to meetings, and working with customers? If we are to treat our bodies as temples, we must allow time for physical, mental and spiritual recovery from the labours of our week.
3> Rest from the pace of the world… We live in a fast-paced world. In the 1990s study for the British Council, Dr. Richard Wiseman recorded how fast people walked in cities as a gauge of those cities’ pace of life. Not surprisingly, faster-paced cities had higher incidences of coronary artery disease. A recent redo of Wiseman’s study found that the speed of walking has increased 10 percent in cities around the globe.
Speeding up our pace has an equal and opposite reaction. Fast living that includes fast food and fast eating may ultimately be slowing us down. Americans spend less than eighty minutes per day eating meals. What is the reaction? We’re getting fat. Nearly 35 percent of Americans have a body mass index (BMI) over 30. (A BMI of more than 25 is overweight, and one of more than 30 is considered obese.) In contrast, the French spend more than two hours a day eating, and only 10 percent of them have a BMI over 30. In 1972 Americans spent $3 billion a year on fast food; today that number is over $110 billion.
By eating fast food, we get calories into our bodies fast, but by taking the time to cook and dine, we nourish our souls. Face-paced lives leave less time for activities that build family and friendships. They may be so fast that they leave little time for either dining or the divine. Taking time to sit down and eat is sacred biblical business. Abraham fed the angels under the oaks of Mamre, Jesus taught over meals in the homes of His friends, and Christ was revealed to the travellers on the road to Emmaus when they broke bread together. In the book of John, Jesus taught over a slow dinner – nearly one-quarter of the Gospel of John! Where would we be if the disciples had used the drive-try windows?
Rest for our souls – and resting in rest to come to know God intimately and, as a result coming to know ourselves better … something God commands that we “remember.” He said, “Remember the Sabbath…” as if He knew that we would live in the fast lane and thus forget…
Rest from the speed of change
Rest from the job
Rest from information