I live for Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings mean I get to sleep in, drink coffee slowly, and not have to immediately get up, ready, and presentable for the work day. Whether you are in school, working in the real world, staying at home with kids, etc., sometimes we all just need a moment (or many moments) to exhale.
In Genesis 1, God really gets down to business—all in the span of seven days. He creates Day and Night (Genesis 1:3-5), Heaven (Genesis 1:6-8), the Earth and Seas (Genesis 1:9-10), vegetation (Genesis 1: 11-13), the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1: 14-19), sea creatures and birds (Genesis 1:20-23), livestock, creeping things, and beasts of the earth (Genesis 1: 24-25), and man (Genesis 1:26-27). Then, after all of that, God rested.
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”Genesis 2:2-3
God rested. The God of the universe—and everything in it—rested. But God did not need rest. He chose to rest. Isaiah 40:28 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Here we see one of many verses in Scripture showing God’s power and strength. He does not need rest, and yet, he rested. But, for all of us who need rest, why does it sometimes feel so hard to do so?
I would venture to say that most of us live in an environment where things are constantly moving. Whether it’s the city we live in, our place of work or school, or just the overall happenings around us, rest can feel like a foreign concept. So, how can we switch our thoughts from viewing rest as an act of laziness or something we didn’t earn, to viewing rest as an act of holiness? Well, first off, we can view rest as holy because God rested, and he sure isn’t lazy. And secondly, if God rested and we are made in his own image (Genesis 1:27), then he has deemed rest necessary.
I think we can all agree that working 24/7 is not good for our mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual health. But what if the season of life you’re in doesn’t make resting easy? Maybe you’re a full-time student with projects and homework taking up all of your time, or someone who has been thrust into the real world and you’re trying to establish yourself in your career, or you’re a parent in the thick of raising children and taking time to rest feels like a selfish thing. Wherever you fall within the spectrum of scenarios I just listed, life doesn’t seem to welcome taking an entire day to rest like God did.
But in order for us to work and move through life for the glory of God, we must make time for rest. In Psalm 23:1-3, David writes, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (NIV). Right here in Scripture, we see that by looking to the Lord as the Shepherd of our lives, we will find rest and our souls will be refreshed. When I reflect on my life, the seasons of life where I have felt the most distant from God have been when my life was the busiest and I wasn’t intentionally making time for him or time for my body and soul to rest. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus knows we overwork ourselves and he knows we are tired and in need of rest. He tells us to come to him for rest. I want you to ask yourself why rest is hard for you. Is it because you feel like you don’t have time for it? Is it because you feel like you didn’t earn it? Is it because it feels selfish when you take time to rest because resting may make things more difficult for those around you?
God rested. Jesus tells us to come to him for rest. We are made to rest. But you know who doesn’t want you to rest? Satan. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” and that Scripture can be applied to when the enemy (Satan) seeks to steal and destroy our time of rest. The enemy wants you to be overworked. He wants you to falsely believe you have to work more and more to somehow “earn” your rest. Don’t believe that lie. Look to Jesus. After Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 to come to him for rest, he continues and says, “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” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus is almighty and powerful, and he regularly took time to rest for various reasons: to prepare for a major task (Luke 4:1-2, 14-15), to recharge after hard work (Mark 6:30-32), to work through grief (Matthew 14:1-13), before making an important decision (Luke 6:12-13), in a time of distress (Luke 22:39-44), and to focus on prayer (Luke 5:16).1 Jesus tells us to learn from him, and we can learn how to rest well through the way he lived his life on earth.
God made our bodies with the ability and capacity to work, but he also made our bodies to need rest. Whether that is physical rest through sleep, mental rest through taking time off of work, emotional rest through spending time with a loved one, or spiritual rest through spending time in God’s Word and his presence, he did not intend for us to work without ceasing. If making and taking time to rest feels daunting to you, try making time for it in baby steps. Having a full day of rest each week—a true Sabbath—is the goal, but in our day and age, that may feel like a very high and unattainable one. So, while you take baby steps toward making a true Sabbath part of your weekly rhythm, I’d suggest trying out some of the following:
- Wake up earlier than you normally do in order to spend time in God’s Word and in his presence before others around you are awake.
- Look at your week and find an evening where you can block out time for yourself and a loved one to reconnect.
- Find a Saturday this next month where you take time for yourself to do something you love.
It does not have to look a certain way or be a perfect moment. Jesus just wants you to come to him so that he can give you rest, and I am praying for you to let him.
1 Ward Cushman, “There’s A Place For Solitude In All Our Lives,” To Every Nation, https://toeverynation.com/6-times-when-jesus-chose-solitude-over-people, accessed May 23, 2022.
Photo credit: Emilee Carpenter
Haley is a public school teacher in the Dallas area, a lover of youth ministry, and a firm believer that a slow morning filled with coffee and Jesus is one of the greatest things on this side of heaven. As a lover of all things cozy, you’ll likely find her grabbing coffee with a high schooler after work or watching a silly television show with her roommates in the evenings. She is also the author of Rooted to Rise, a devotional published by Hosanna Revival.