My family (wife and two kids under 4) are gearing up to go on vacation. About 80%, or 200 million Americans, plan to travel this summer. As we get away, let’s re-think why rest is good.
Partly, we need to get away because every day we are defined by what we give (to our kids, jobs, schools, sports, etc.). In an increasingly connected world, our need to contribute never ends. Summer vacations are a chance to get out of the grind of constant contribution and hopefully get some much-needed rest.
While summer vacation is an annual tradition, rest in the Bible was a weekly rhythm called Sabbath.
The first time God commanded his people to rest was found in Exodus, right after he delivered them from 400 years of slavery. As slaves, they were defined by their work – by their contribution – but God saved them and commanded them to stop working. Weekly resting was the sign of their relationship with God.
As a constantly connected and contributing people, we see rest as recovery. In the Bible, God used rest as an essential rhythm for identity – an identity that moved beyond Israel’s work and forced them to sit and remember God’s work for them.
The biblical idea of rest reminds us of a simple truth often forgotten: God doesn’t define us by what we do for him, but instead by what he has already done for us. That’s why he took some slaves and told them to rest once a week. Like us, they needed reminding that the nature of our relationship with God is founded on what He gives to us, not what we give to him.
There is a reason the Hebrew day started with sunset and not sunrise. It began with rest, not work. It reminded them of a God who sees them differently than the culture around them, and in our culture where contribution is currency, we need that reminder as well.
So wherever your travels take you, may you see and celebrate a God who commands us to rest, and find your identity in His work for you.
The Pastor’s Place features columns written by a different area church leader each month. Call 940-728-8284 for more information.