First Came Rest

God seems to be teaching me about rest just lately. Today my pastor was talking at church about something Jesus said. I’ve just looked this up and it’s not the wording I’m used to, but I like it: “Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept My teachings and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives” (Matthew 11:28-29). First it struck me that in Jesus’ order of things, resting and being refreshed comes before learning; then I got to thinking it’s always been like that … ever since the beginning.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. Then 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 2:2-3). God didn’t launch straight into giving Adam instructions on how to take care of the garden. First came rest, for God and all of His creation; then came the learning.

If you’re tired, maybe the best thing you can do right now is to put on your slippers and make yourself a hot drink, or turn on the electric blanket and lie down enjoying the warmth. The learning can wait for a little while; just take that time, and let the Lord refresh you from your weariness.

The Truth About Self

This week’s Tuesday at Ten prompt is truth – that thing that’s so vital in processing what we hear, so we can live our lives well. Jesus said: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”, which is why it’s so important to find out what He thinks about us and our lives.

Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about self. As an example, here’s a quote from a friend’s update on Facebook:
“Apparently happiness has replaced goodness. We all strive for what will make us happy, to fulfil our desires, to satisfy our needs & dying are the thoughts for doing good. Its all about us. Praying that I’ll change my selfish ways to wanting to make a good choice, to please God with my actions instead of pleasing myself. Happiness only lasts for a time but doing good lasts forever.”

At first glance, this might give the impression that all God wants is for us to do good, paying no attention to our feelings and having no thought for ourselves or our happiness. I admire people like my friend, who’ve given up some of their own comforts to accomplish something greater for God, but I also love my friends dearly and don’t want to see them working themselves into the ground whilst forfeiting their happiness. I’d rather see them work less and smile more, but does Jesus agree?

Just today, I listened to a radio-programme about self-obsession, and the presenter said: “The whole point of following Jesus is that it’s nothing about yourself at all” – again, same impression. If I took just these two quotes on their own, I might be left wondering if God really cared about me.

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life,” says Jesus, so let’s look for the truth in God’s Word. “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to Him” (1 Peter 5:7), and one of my favourite verses: “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of His servant” (Psalm 35:27). God delights in our wellbeing – mine and yours. If I had to make a judgment about God, I’d say He’d rather see us work less and smile more too.

Of course doing good is important. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). “Let us not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Doing good is essential to the outworking of our Christian faith, but not at the expense of our joy. I was just thinking about the phrase: ‘Find your joy in the LORD’. Where do you think it’s used in the Bible; in connection with working for Him?

Actually, it’s used in connection with Sabbath – with God’s day of rest. “If you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

There were two sisters who were friends of Jesus while He lived on earth: Martha and Mary. Basically Martha beetled about trying to get everything done, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Jesus said Mary had made the better choice (Luke 10:42). Perhaps, rather than striving to do good or striving for happiness, our life’s goal should be intimacy with Jesus. Out of that will come everything else we need to live our lives for Him.

A-Z: Yes!

I expect at some point you’ve read or heard somebody say something and you’ve thought:  “Yes!  I really needed to hear that.”  I’ve had a couple of those yes-moments in the last few days, and here’s the one from today.  It’s a post from Holley about recharging the batteries and God’s power going out from you.  I’ve mentioned Holley on the blog before.  I like her posts.  They tend to be short, and some (like this one) are so impactful; I’d really recommend you read it.

“Unglued” Chapter 11: Pause and Reflect

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,then you will find your joy in the Lord” – Isaiah 58:13-14.

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This is my last chapter-post, and what a great way to end – with a post about God’s Sabbath-rest.  What does the word Sabbath mean to you?  Depending on your upbringing, it may simply be a day with lots of rules attached.  Or a day of rest, only to find you have double the work the following day.  I went through a phase about 6 or 7 years ago where I decided not to do work on a Sunday.  Dishes piled up, to the point where if visitors came unexpectedly towards the end of the afternoon, I’d shut the kitchen-door in embarrassment, and it was daft; I wouldn’t do my own dishes, but if someone else asked for my help with theirs, that was ok because that was serving!  I wouldn’t have dared admit it to you then, but I didn’t find that a delight.  Sticking rigidly to those sort of rules can become legalistic, not freeing, but that was a very necessary time for me – a time when I looked at lots of different areas of my life, to see if they aligned with what God wanted for me.  It showed me what I could do without and what I was obsessing too much about, so it really has freed me.  I suppose in a way, the whole of that time was a Sabbath.

 

Because I like how Lysa describes her Sabbath – a time to hit the pause button, and to reflect on her Christian journey.  She looks at the Bible-passage quoted above, and asks herself 3 questions:  Are there areas in her life where she’s going her own way, not God’s?  In what ways is she pleasing herself?  And what idle words need to be reined in?  She noticed that when she took care once a week to pause and reflect on her life, she felt more emotionally stable the rest of the time.  When I do the same, when I pause and reflect and spend time with God, that’s always something I find a delight.  It helps; strengthens; refreshes me.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve regretted it.

 

“Keep My Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us” – Ezekiel 20:20.  A sign of what?

 

“He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” – Colossians 2:15-17.  The Sabbath was pointing to a future reality that would be found in Christ.  When we think of our relationship with Jesus as our Sabbath-rest, we see it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday.

 

As Lysa says, “There are private conversations we need to have with God”.  When you next have some free time, will you spend it with Him?  Maybe it’ll mean leaving your dishes in the sink for a bit … or maybe it won’t, but I hope you’ll find it’s a delight.

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Thank you, Faith Without Borders people, for reading “Unglued” with us.  I’ve really enjoyed writing these posts, and chatting to you on Facebook.  Stay tuned for Jess’s post on the last chapter, and the group will still be there for a while if you want to keep in-touch with us.

 

Have you enjoyed it?  Would you like to see more book-studies on this blog in 2013?