He Rested

“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done”
(Genesis 2:3 ,NIV).

For months, one week in April glared off my calendar menacingly.  My husband and I focused all of our attention and energy on getting to that week and getting through that week—appointments, birthday parties, wedding, special church services, meetings, and holiday activities piled on top of our normal schedule.  I had the individual events in my calendar circled in different colors multiple times so that I wouldn’t overlook any one of them.   When people asked us about May, our eyes glazed over uncomprehendingly.  May?  What’s May?  As far as we were concerned, finishing April was the goal.

I’m sure you have weeks on your calendar that look like that, too, an overload of busyness, and you hold your breath in anticipation of it, stress when you think about it, and dream about making it through.

But then our week was done.  The last event finished.  We survived.  We drove home.  We rested.

It sounds so easy, really, to say “rest,” and yet for me rest takes great effort.

I’m physically incapable of napping.  Instead of sleeping, I lie awake thinking about all the things I should be doing instead of sleeping.  By the time I finally give up and throw back the covers in defeat, I’m frantic about the wasted time and move faster through my to-do list to make up for it.

I feel guilty for leisure, embarrassed by free time, and apologetic for fun.

Accepting help or taking a break feels like failure and an admission of weakness.

There’s something else at work here beyond just an addiction to adrenaline.  Oh, how I hate for it to be true, and yet digging down deeply enough reveals its ugly presence—-pride.  Truly, it feels good to be needed.  It feels important to be so busy.

When I run around in a breathless pace, doing, doing, doing all the time, I act as if the world depends on me to function, as if me sitting down for 15 minutes would create cosmic meltdown.

And that’s why God, from the very first week of creation, instituted a Sabbath rest.  It wasn’t for His benefit, as if the Almighty God who created a sun, moon, and planet with the power of His words grew weary and needed to sleep.  No, the Sabbath was not for God.  Instead, Jesus “said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).

He created a day of rest for you and me.  It’s a reminder that the universe can exist without our involvement and labor.  It’s a re-ordering of our perspective, so that we remember it is God who is essential and not us.  So often, we forget that our jobs, our families, our ministries, our relationships, our everything depend not on our ability, but on God’s power.  We stress about meetings because we think everything relies on how well we present ourselves.  We plot out conversations because we think the outcome depends on the words we choose.  We think.  We plan.  We do.  We fix.  We busy ourselves.  We worry.  We analyze.  We lose sleep.

God knows the pride that burrows itself into our hearts; the tentacles it wraps around us as we seek fulfillment in accomplishments, in tasks completed, in people depending on us.  I’ve written it before and yet need the reminder of my own words:

I’ve seen many women engage in Busyness Battles with each other.   We ask each other what seems like such a simple question, such as “What have you been up to lately?” or “Have you been busy?”  Then, like a Wild West shootout, we breathlessly list our every activity in an effort to “out-busy” the other woman.  The prize?  The personal pride that we are more stressed than the woman we are talking to.  Don’t be embarrassed to concede defeat and say, “Well, I’ve been focusing on de-stressing. On Sunday, I watched a movie with my family and then read some of my book.” You may have lost the shoot-out, but who wants the title of “Most Stressed Woman” anyway?

I read this week that Craig Groeschel, in his book Weird, recommends a to-don’t list.  It’s a tool for those like me who find inactivity takes effort, to help me choose sitting on the deck while my daughters color with sidewalk chalk over doing laundry or choose pushing my baby girl in her swing and listening to her giggles turn to belly laughs over planning church programs.   This isn’t about rules, regulations and law.  It isn’t about Pharisaical hypocrisy and legalism.  It’s about rest and rest is about a humble stepping aside and the placing and continual re-placing of God in control of our lives.

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Now it’s your turn:

Lysa TerKeurst asked this in her blog last week.  I’d love to hear your answers:  What would you put on a to-don’t list?

For further thoughts, check out:

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King