Summer is in full swing and social media feeds are crowded with pictures of road trips and family vacations. Pictures depicting fun adventures visiting exotic places and discovering the beauty of this world while others show a simpler time away from work and hanging with family. Whatever your preference for vacation, drinking deep from the well of rest will restore mind, body, and soul.
The Bible presents rest as integral to human flourishing according to God’s design. If possible, everyone should take dedicated time each year to disengage from the daily grind and routine. Rest reminds you what is really important in life, benefits you emotionally and strengthens the bond in your family while creating memories that will carry throughout life.
Regarding God’s design for rest, we read in the Bible:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.
You must not do any work – you, your household, and those who work for you all the way to your livestock are to rest. Even the foreigner inside your city gates is to rest.
For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
Despite knowing the obvious benefits, resting well remains difficult and for many reasons. Perhaps there are financial constraints on your ability to get away. Being early in your career can limit time and opportunity for a vacation. Family dynamics come into play with our increasingly global economy and high mobility resulting in families living further away from each other. Time off from work is often filled with trips to see parents and siblings.
There is also a spiritual component that complicates our rest. The ways of the world always work against God’s design. They are intent on pulling us away from a thriving life in relationship with God and following the pattern of scripture. Jesus encountered this when accused of breaking the law by religious leaders. He showed his followers these religious leaders had distorted the scripture regarding sabbath rest thereby robbing the sabbath of its true purpose. Jesus corrected them saying, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
Jesus goes on to declare himself the Lord of the Sabbath and he taught that Sabbath rest was made for our good. Consider three ways rest is for our good.
- Rest gives the Opportunity to Stop: to step away from the work done and to consider that which is good, and that which is not. Then to seek wisdom for what to do next.
- We Meet God in Rest: We rest because God rested. Not out of need, but to institute a rhythm to life. Choosing to rest is one way we can pattern our lives after God. Rest is perhaps one of the truly divine activities we can do.
- Rest Declares Truth to Our Soul: We are not God, who does not slumber nor sleep. We are limited, finite, and frail. We need rest. Speaking truth is for our good and it always does us good while denying truth only does us harm.
Considering your opportunity to rest this summer, begin by being thankful for the work of the past six or seven months. Whatever your particular vocation, however well you think it’s going, if you work for yourself or for someone else, the Bible teaches, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” Col. 3:23-24
In other words, God cares about our work. So, pray for God to bless all that you put your hands to do in work. We cannot go back and change what is past and done, but God can yet bless it. Ask God to give strength, wisdom, and skillfulness in the work that is before you after vacation.
Then put work down. Let your attention go to the things you were forced to set aside and find the opportunity to truly rest. God knows the work in the months to come is weighty. So, pray for God to restore you and your family, refreshed in body, mind, and soul. God designed rest for this very purpose and as Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, He will certainly hear and bless a prayer that leads us closer to following His design, Word, and example.