In our frantic, fast-paced society, rest is becoming a hot commodity. Overloaded schedules, misplaced priorities, and a plethora of demands are squeezing the life of God out of families. To make things worse, there is a modern fallacy which views rest and relaxation as a bad thing. Out of a fear of being regarded as “lazy” many are slow to slow down. They assume they must always keep going. Busyness is regarded as a badge of honor. There is little time for engaging in God-designed rest. When we look at Scripture, we learn that God wants us to take time off from time to time. Let’s examine three reasons why we should engage in this spiritual discipline.
The first chapter of Genesis contains an account of God’s work of creation. After making the heavens, the earth, all animals, and humankind, the Lord took a break. Scripture records, “By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done” (Genesis 2:2). Did God need to rest? No. Omnipotence doesn’t need an off-day (see Psalm 121:4). However, God rested at the onset of human history to teach an important lesson — His creation needs rest.
You Need It
Jesus highlighted humanity’s need to periodically slow down. On one occasion, some super-spiritual, self-righteous religious people criticized Him and His disciples because they didn’t observe man-made rules concerning the Sabbath. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Our Lord’s point was this — God created a weekly rest as something for people to enjoy. It was never intended to be regarded as a harsh religious rule. God wants us to unwind on a weekly basis because He knows that we need it.
Jesus Told His Disciples to Rest
In the second gospel, Mark records how Jesus encouraged His disciples to rest after a busy season of ministry. The King James Version records, “And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart in a desert place, and rest a while’” (Mark 6:31). I’m thankful that the Bible records this tidbit of instruction from our Lord. While voices of contemporary society may demand that we keep running, burning the candle at both ends, our Lord encourages us to engage in periodic rest after hard week of work. He knows we need it.
Commenting on the passage above, I once heard an old preacher say, “If you don’t ‘Come ye yourselves apart’ from time to time, you will eventually come apart.” Are you allowing yourself appropriate times of rest and relaxation? If not, rearrange your priorities. Plan a weekly time to recharge your batteries. Don’t fall to excuses, believing that rest is impossible. If you are too busy to slow down, you are too busy. The God who created the cycles and seasons of the earth, has made things to function according to a certain schedule. He is the author of time, and He has mandated that you take time off. If you aren’t resting, you are resisting His axioms of creation. Make some changes and make the spiritual discipline a part of your weekly schedule. By doing so, you’ll be happier and healthier!
Dr. Patrick Latham