“Come to me, all 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.”
What is Godly rest, and how can we pursue it?
The events of 2020 have called us to action – challenging us to learn, grow, and mature in momentous ways. Health workers have given up everything in pursuit of healing and renewal during a growing pandemic. Mothers have worked overtime so they can teach their children algebra and “To Kill a Mockingbird” during the day hours. Students are adjusting their schedules to meet the demands of rigorous academic syllabi while picking up part-time jobs to support their families. And amidst all the chaos, people of color are fighting for their lives. Needless to say, we are busier than ever. And I don’t know about you, but I am tired.
Rest is a fundamental part of human existence. From the beginning of Creation, humans were designed to desire, even require, times of rest. God’s command to rest saturates scripture –
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God”
“And he said to them,
‘Come away by yourselves to a
desolate place and rest a while.’”
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
‘In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’”
But how can we rest when there is so much work to do? Isn’t that selfish? Doesn’t that mean putting our needs above the needs of others, ultimately disobeying the Golden Rule to love our neighbor as ourselves?
In an attempt to answer these lofty questions, it is important to highlight the difference between physical rest and spiritual rest, making it clear that God commands us to practice both. According to Google dictionary, rest is defined as the “cease [of] work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” Even God rested on the seventh day of Creation (the Sabbath), and He most definitely calls us to rest periodically from our work. But God also calls us to rest in our work. When Jesus died on the cross, He willingly took on the heavy yoke of sin and condemnation and exchanged it for the light yoke of trusting God. God does all the work so we can rest in Him and His promises, knowing fully that all things work for the greater good. We need both of these kinds of rest in our lives.
God works overtime so we don’t have to. We get tired when we try to rely on our own strength rather than trusting the Lord to carry us through. I encourage you to rest in that truth today and every day. When you feel tired from the worldly work God is calling you to do, pray for the Lord’s strength and rest in it. Then, and only then, will you discover the true meaning of what it means to rest in the Lord.
What will you do this week to follow God’s command to rest?