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Rest. One of the hardest things in the world for me to do. Now I can sleep like a champion, but rest is different than sleep. Rest, defined as “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength” and “be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position,” but what does it mean to us, as Christians?
One Sunday, my Pastor preached on this subject and took his scripture from Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Now, many people most likely think that this is physical rest that He is talking about, but if you read further you can see that this was a joining of us with God in order that He may take on some of our stress and trouble. Verse 29 says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
A yoke is a device that joins two or more animals together to work for one purpose. As you can see, if two animals are yoked together they have to move together. One cannot go one way and one another. God wants us to be yoked with Him. Not so He can boss us around (He is gentle and lowly at heart), but so that He can guide us and help us to learn. In this way we can rest in Him and His ability to guide us through any situation. Rest. Soul rest is different than physical rest, although they may go hand in hand at times. If you look around at people that you come in contact with, it is easy to see that most people do not know how to really rest. We are constantly being bombarded with information, whether it is needed or not. From advertisements to social media to work to family/friends, we are never completely “off.” Most of us are more connected with our phone than we are with our children or spouse. Just look around the next time you go out to eat and you will see many more people on their phones than sitting and talking, enjoying time together.
Even God rested. On the 7th day of creation, He stopped to rest. Was He tired? Of course not! He is not restrained by such things as physical tiredness like we are. He rested for this one simple reason – to fully enjoy what He had created. I have to think He just sat back and took that rest to look around at the clouds, the sky, the animals, and the greenery, while He enjoyed the sound that only a beautiful day on Earth can offer. Can you imagine? Most of us cannot even imagine it, even though our hearts crave this type of experience.
To go back to our definitions, “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” When is the last time you truly took time to rest? It is a choice. Resting is a choice that may take some practice for some of us. Rest is not curling up on the couch with a good book or movie, it is time set apart and sanctified to hear from God. Phone off, computer silenced, and focus on Him. It is not easy – in fact I will say that it is something that has to be cultivated and practiced to become proficient at it. I have a hard time just sitting and thinking, but this is what is needed to not only recharge our minds, but also charge our time with God.
I think the 2nd definition is very illuminating as well. “Be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.” We want to stay in Him, right? We want to be strong in Him. Unmovable. Rest may be the key. If we can learn how to rest, we will not only relax, refresh, and recover our strength, but it will also support us so as to stay in a specified place or position. I want to be grounded in Him and have always thought that meant I had to be active, but maybe all I need to do is rest – in Him and in His ability to do all things.
So what does this look like in a normal Christian’s life? Time set apart for your relationship with God. No phones, computers, tablets, books, or other noise of life. Just time spent in silence communing with Him. A relationship is a two-sided thing. To have a “relationship” with God means not only that you are talking to Him, but hearing from Him as well. Rest in Him and He will give you peace and joy like you have never imagined.