I got the message from God embedded at the end of a seemingly innocuous email last week: “I hope you and your family are getting the chance to rest this summer.”
Rest? Ha! I almost spit out the coffee I was swallowing at the time of reading. Who has time to rest?!?!? But the question stayed with me. And haunted me. Yes I can be productive. But can I also be faithful to God when I rest?
What does the bible say about rest?
The bible says “it is vain to rise up early and go late to rest…for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Sleep? When there is much to do? This is a hard one as many of us have such full plates it is hard to know how to stop. The book of Hebrews says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Here the writer of Hebrews likens not resting to actually disobeying God. If God indeed built us with a natural rhythm that needs recharging, if we ignore this rhythm we’re saying we don’t trust our Maker. This isn’t right. We need rest.
Why is rest so hard for some of us?
As I write this post, I look across the street where I live and can see big patches of blue sky breaking the otherwise gray backdrop that has covered us for a week. Though writing inside, I can hear birds. Lots of them- robins and finches and some other bird making a terrible racket. I feel myself slowing down.
And then my 6-year-old son wakes, crawls down the stairs and onto my lap. I rub his back for a while as he tells me of his dreams and how he slept and how bedtime went and everything else racing through his imaginative mind. He slips on crocs and heads into the front yard on a “God walk”, what we do as a family to look for signs the Maker in the everyday. He walks through the yard and goes exploring. Then he comes to the window where I’m typing and says, “Come on papa, come outside.”
And for a moment, I’ll confess, I think about staying on my task and telling him “in a minute, bud.” As parents we can often do this. We don’t flat out say “no” when our kids want to spend time with us, we just say “in a minute.” But often we need more than a minute and when we finally stop doing our task we’re engrossed in, our kid’s minds and imaginations have moved on. Learning how to rest is also learning how to be present to the NOW of experiencing life. Why do we think the email we’re working on is more important than a God walk? Or a FB scan? Or a blog post?
Rest is hard for me at times because I confuse my doing with my being. I want to do more and more to be a good father and a good servant of Christ and a good husband and a good man. But maybe God is teaching me that more of my goodness comes from who I am, a child of God, than what I do. As my son waits expectantly at the window, I see him through the glass as my Heavenly Father sees me. Beautiful. Hopeful. Good. Not because of what he does, but merely for who he is. I love him so much it hurts inside. And then finally my dull mind gets the message from my Father. “As you see your son, so I see you,” comes the message from up high. “You are good Scott, now enter into some rest.”
I shut the computer screen, slip on my shoes, and join my son on an amazing God walk. This blog post was finished a day late- but the timing couldn’t have been better.