ABC Extra – You Need A Break!

December 12, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Yes, this is a picture of me.  This is when we were at the rodeo in January, seeing MercyMe in concert.  Well, our friends and my wife were seeing MercyMe.  I, on the other hand, was a little tired that evening.  So I took a little nap in the middle of a big concert.

I am one of those people who can sleep anytime and anywhere.  If I’m tired, my eyes begin to close and my head begins to nod.  It doesn’t matter if it is at night or during the day, at a public place or when I’m at home.  I can even doze at a rodeo.  My wife, on the other hand, needs everything to be just right before she can fall asleep.  The room must be pitch black.  The ambience must be dead quiet.  Even the slightest noise in the middle of the night can startle her awake.

This past weekend in worship and ABC, we talked about gift and glory of rest.  But in a world full of appointments, tasks, meetings, and errands, rest can be hard to come by.  Especially during this holiday season, when we have parties to host and presents to buy and relatives to visit, the specter of a restful Christmas can seem to be nothing but a cruel illusion.

So how do we get the rest we need when the world around us never seems to slow down?  First, to rest, we must intentionally slow ourselves down.  I shared this quote in ABC, but it is so insightful, I want to share it here again.  It concerns the biblical day of rest, otherwise known as the Sabbath:

Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working [and rest] is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily, the way you might slip into bed at the end of a long day. As the Cat in the Hat says, “It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.” This is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional, requiring extensive advance preparation – at the very least a scrubbed house, a full larder and a bath. The rules did not exist to torture the faithful. They were meant to communicate the insight that interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will.[1]

Resting “requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will.”  In other words, rest isn’t easy!  It must be intentional.  You must schedule rest, prepare for rest, and then stubbornly take a rest, even if it spites a calendar which clamors for your every waking moment.

Second, to rest, we must examine our hearts.  The apostle John writes, “We set our hearts at rest in God’s presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).  Rest, John reminds us, goes deeper than just how many appointments we have scheduled.  It goes down to the state of our hearts.  Thus, even when our schedules are packed full and our lives are running at high speed, our hearts can be at rest because our hearts are held by the Lord.  The stress our world does not have to ruin the rest of our hearts.  Thus, even when we feel as though our hearts are overwhelmed by this world’s demands, we can cling to this promise:  “God is greater than our hearts.”  God’s power and grace far outweigh, outlast, and outdo the anxiety and unrest we can harbor in our hearts.  So find your rest in Him.  He’s just the break you need.

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[1] Judith Shulevitz, “Bring Back the Sabbath,” The New York Times (3.2.2003).

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