August 22, 2011
Planning to Rest
"He said to them, 'This is what the LORD commanded: "Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning."'" Exodus 16:23 (NIV)
Preparing to go on vacation takes a lot of work. By the time I finish all the laundry, clean the house and get completely caught up at work before I can enjoy a break, I'm exhausted.
This year, my family vacation came two days after a huge deadline at work. By the time I locked the front door and turned towards the car, mental and physical fatigue overwhelmed me.
Once we arrived at our destination, I could have cried with relief. The months of planning and weeks of hectic last-minute preparation were worth it. After a few days of complete rest, I felt recharged and ready to go.
Although this pattern of planning before rest is common to holidays and vacations, it wasn't until recently I applied it to honoring the Sabbath. Every week I'm faced with the opportunity to rest. Actually it's more than an opportunity, it's a commandment from the Lord. But instead of planning for it to happen, I usually slip into a day of work.
For some reason, I expect a day of rest to happen with no effort. But it doesn't. The truth is I need to rethink how I approach God's commandment to rest. It requires intention for it to happen, or I'll just use it as a catch-up day.
For years God has been gently convicting me of dis-honoring His day. Although I know it's one of the Ten Commandments, I've prioritized work over obedience too many times.
I've even tried to redefine work and call it rest, as if that could fool God. The truth is, I've created a seven-day workweek, and neglected to plan for rest.
It's easy to find excuses not to rest: I'm a mom of five children, my work is ministry-related, or it's just a few e-mails. Those excuses sound weak to my ears when weighed against God's request to obey Him in something that's pleasurable and for my own good.
The Sabbath is a gift from a loving heavenly Father to His children. It is a day to breathe a sigh of relief, and rest from our labors. It is a day to soak in the companionship of those we love. My spirit, mind and body long for rest. To reject this healing gift hurts me and those I love. It also sets me in direct disobedience to God.
Given my tendency towards work, I have to plan for a day of Sabbath rest to happen. It will take me spreading housework throughout the week, finishing the laundry a day early and preparing meals in advance. It will take a weekly plan. But when I make the Sabbath a priority, I'm obeying one of God's caring commandments and teaching my children to do the same.
And when my thirsty soul tastes the refreshment of rest, I realize why God asks me to honor His day.
Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I have made excuses and dishonored Your Sabbath. I know You gave me this day as a gift, and I have often rejected it in favor of my own way. Help me to plan the rest of the week wisely so that I'm prepared for a day of rest. Thank You for forgiving me and giving me another chance to obey You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
What practices can you implement in your life this week to allow you to take a Sabbath rest?
What benefit does rest bring to me, mentally, physically and spiritually?
What are common reasons I neglect to honor the Sabbath?
Genesis 2:3, "Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." (NIV)
Ezekiel 20:11-12, "I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, by which the person who obeys them will live. Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy." (NIV)
Matthew 11:28-29, "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." (NIV)
© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 22 August 2011.