By the time you read this, you, along with your family and friends will be in the throws of the holidays. Gift exchanges, parties, traveling, big meals and New Years right around the corner. If you are like most of us, the last thing on your mind is the possibility of rest. I want to encourage you to take a moment to stop and think about how you do life. In other words, get a jump on January and think about the ways you structure your calendar. Do you run ragged from one day to the next with no end in sight? Is rest built into your schedule? Seems impossible, right? Well, not necessarily. In fact when we look at scripture, rest is a central theme and should be a pattern we follow.
Looking back at the garden and the creation account, we see that God rested on the 7th day. You are of course familiar with this, but have you ever thought of how that week looked from Adam’s perspective? Adam was created on day six. Which means his first full day of existence, the next day, was a Sabbath. And only then, after resting, did he begin to work and to keep the creation entrusted to him. He worked from his rest. Sabbath rest, from the view of scripture, is designed to be the pivot point from which we do all of our work. It is the point in our schedule that resets our hearts, our minds and our bodies to orient us back to our Creator. Therefore, we ought to give significantly more thought to intentional rest than we do. There are natural rhythms in life that the Lord has graciously given us to separate one day from the next, one season from the others and to keep track of year after year. There is a natural pattern of stopping and starting, resting and working.
In Genesis 1:14-15 God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
And later in Exodus 20:8-10 “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.”
Using these rhythms, here are four created patterns that the Lord has given us to orient our calendar around rest.
1) Daily Rest – How can you rest daily? This is not just the need for ample sleep (which is important), but also our need to be strengthened in the Lord. This only happens when we stop and come to him for nourishment. How is your resting in the Lord going? What changes do you need to make in your schedule to better allow for unbroken time alone with Jesus?
Tip: Invite a friend or two to begin a Bible reading plan with you so you can encourage each other. Here are a few options from Ligonier Ministries (my preference has been the two year plan).
2) Weekly Rest – How do you spend your Sabbath Sunday? It should look different from the rest of the week. What is getting in the way of your worship and rest on any given Sunday? Do sports dictate your schedule? Does work distract you from truly honoring the Lord’s Day? Without a plan you can almost guarantee an unrestful Sabbath.
Tip: Recently, my wife Sage has begun a weekly night off. Every Tuesday night she goes to a coffee shop, meets up with a friend or just reads at Chic-fil-A. At first this seemed impossible to pull off with four kids but it has quickly become a night she won’t miss. Try it!
3) Monthly Rest – We don’t think of this one as much, but each month provides another opportunity to build in rest. Use your imagination on this one. If you had one day built into your schedule for rest, what could it look like? What book could you read? What friend could you meet for lunch? What hobby would you invest in?
Tip: The staff at Uptown has a mandatory devotional day. Every fourth Monday of the month, the office is closed because the staff are all spending a day devoted to prayer, reading Scripture, getting outside, listening to sermons and communing with God. I would highly recommend it. If your workweek won’t allow it, pick a Saturday or use some of those unused vacation days. You won’t regret it.
4) Yearly Rest – Vacations are supposed to be restful, but how many of you feel like you need a vacation after you come back from a vacation? I often do. What needs to change in order to schedule out a restful vacation? How can you build margin into your plan so you don’t come back exhausted? I know personally, holidays and vacation throw me off of my devotional routine. If you’re like me, you may need to make a separate holiday/vacation devotional plan. Start on that book you’ve been meaning to read.
Tip: Implement the stay-cation. Stay at home instead of going out of town. Some of the most restful vacations have been the ones we did not go anywhere. Pick a less popular holiday and create an in-town retreat. Make it a tradition. You will look forward to it every year and you will actually come away rested.
Again, you’re probably reading this in the midst of the holiday madness. If so, let me encourage you to take a moment right now and put a night on your calendar to map out the next year of rest. Use this holiday season to take stock and look for ways to take advantage of the God given rhythms of rest.
If you have any helpful hints of ways you have implemented rest, we would love to hear it. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.