On January 2nd we need to take a breath. Those of us who are retired or those able to take some time off from work do just that. Take some time to relax and breathe.
The hectic pace of the last two months caused me to take a hard look at the toll that the breakneck pace takes on the intimacy of my relationship with God. I know that I’m not alone when I say that when we are constantly on the move, we don’t stop to spend time with God and experience His great love for us.
In a book study of Overwhelmed: Winning The War Against Worry, that I led a couple of years ago, the author, Perry Noble, said that he heard someone say once “If I were the devil, I would invent a device you could hold in your hands that would ensure you’d always have your schedule in front of you and give people access to you anytime they wanted”. “The devil doesn’t want to make you bad; he wants to make you busy. Because if he can make you busy, then eventually he can make you bad.”
It doesn’t matter if all those things that you are doing non-stop is ministry, and you are “Working for the Lord”. It’s amazing how many God loving pastors, preachers, apostles, evangelists, and teachers, who have lost their families because they thought they were doing “the Lord’s work”. Here’s the typical excuse; “The devil never takes a day off so I can’t”. Well, I don’t think that the devil should be your example.
When we are always running from one appointment to the next, one project to the next, one deadline after another, never taking the time to stop, rest and reflect we are heading for a crash.
God doesn’t want you to crash so He commands us to rest. Yes, that’s right, He commanded us to rest.
Of the Ten Commandments the one that God spent the most time explaining was the one to rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV)8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
The Bible says that those who will not rest are disobedient.
Exodus 31:14 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 5:12 (NKJV)12 'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.
Jesus often removed Himself from the hustle and bustle of ministry and took time to recharge.
Matthew 14:21-23 (NLT)21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Luke 5:15-16 (NLT)15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 6:12 (NLT)12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
In 2023 Stop, Catch Your Breath, Then Exhale
Excerpted from Less Fret, More Faith by Max Lucado,
Rest is not lazy
Time for rest must be taken daily and weekly. God told Moses,
Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed. — Exodus 23:12 NIV
This was not a suggestion, recommendation, or piece of practical advice. This was a command. Rest! Once a week let the system reboot. Once a week let the entire household slow down. The Israelite who violated this law paid for the sin with his or her life. Today the death penalty is still in effect, but the death is a gradual one that comes from overwork, stress, and anxiety.
The Bible does not see rest as a sign of weakness or laziness but as a mark of reverence.
To observe a Sabbath day of rest is to announce, “God knows what I need more than I do. If He says to rest, I will rest.” And, as we do, our bodies and minds will be refreshed.
Never has rest been more important. We move at too fast a pace! Our adrenaline spigot is seldom shut off. As we race for late-night flights and add early-morning meetings, we are stretched beyond our limits. High adrenaline output depletes the brain’s natural tranquilizers and sets the stage for high anxiety. Many of us have been trained to associate relaxation with irresponsibility, so some rewiring is needed.
- Don’t overdo it. Understand your limits. If you think you have no limits, then you have more than most people.
- Once you have reached your limits, stop. Don’t work until you drop. Find a pace of life that works for you, and stick to it.
- Maintain regular breaks during the day. Naps are biblical.
- Give your mind a rest from technology. Turn off, unplug, detach from social media, news, and all the tech toys that deplete energy.
- Learn to relax. To relax is to disengage and let go. An hour or daylong Sabbath is not the time to catch up with your work. It is a time to entrust your work to God. After all, He worked for six days and then rested. The world didn’t fall apart. It won’t for you either.
Verse for Reflection
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30
Pray It Through
Lord, Break me of the need to be busy pursuing a sense of self-worth. Make me secure in who you are and who you have made me to be, and as a result, teach me what it means to truly rest. In your holy name, amen.