“Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as the Lord your God has commanded you. You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey, any of your livestock, or the resident alien who lives within your city gates, so that your male and female slaves may rest as you do.”
Work, Work, Work
Where do you find yourself on the work-to-live versus live-to-work debate? Some of us are able to simply clock in, do what must be done, and then clock out in a timely fashion. For others of us, our desire to truly do a job well done takes up much more space and priority in our lives. It may even bleed into our home lives and personal relationships. We just have so many priorities and not enough time to sort it all out. Forget resting and retreating; there’s no time for such frivolous add-ons, it seems. However, the good news is this: there’s rest for the weary.
So, how do we strike that balance in our lives between overworking and doing what’s, well, enough? The answer to this question—as with all so much of the rest of our concerns—can be found in Christ.
A Timeless Command
Most of us don’t have a very good idea of what sabbath means. It sounds like something a little too old-timey, unable to translate to our modern day context. Just do nothing. . . in this economy. . . in my household. . . with work hours like mine? It just doesn’t seem wise or feasible to us. And yet, the Lord still commanded, “Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as the Lord your God has commanded you.”
We can be certain, however, that the same concerns were just as relevant to the Israelites as they are for us, even if the sabbath was part of their lifestyle and customs. They, too, had to reckon with the anxieties and stresses of their livelihoods’ sustainability and productiveness. Yet the same God commands the sabbath for our good and for His glory still today. It takes a lot of trust to believe He is on our side and working on our behalf as we pause to rest in His goodness. It takes even more faith to believe that the good He provides is better than our own.
Rest for the Weary
To carve out time for a sabbath doesn’t necessarily mean that we must block out an entire twenty-four hours to do nothing. However, it does mean that we set aside time to cease our striving and reflect on the God who is our Provider. It means taking the necessary time to set our duties, obligations, and cares aside. It means remembering that our lives and livelihoods are in His hands, and that rest is a necessity for us all.
“There’s rest for the weary,” isn’t just a meaningless mantra. It’s a reminder that we can only accomplish so much by our own strength. We remember the God who has provided all of our needs and whose face we must bring ourselves back to seeking. There is a time for everything under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It’s not from our own strength and might that we find our peace. So how can we allow rest and sabbath to be a part of our natural rhythms rather than working ourselves back into weariness?
Take the time to pause, reflect, and rest in the truth that our needs are not met through hustling, demanding, or manifesting our dreams. It’s by the grace of the God who graciously provides and who has given work a place in our lives, not as the epicenter but as a means of His grace. May worship be the resting place in which we reside.
Consider what marks your lifestyle: is it in the striving or in the sabbath? Reflect on the idea that rest equals trust in God. Does your life reflect that trust? In what ways can you test your faith and strike the balance of work versus rest as you place your trust in Christ alone?