“If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life.”
–Eugene H. Peterson, American pastor and author
“[God] rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Genesis 2:2b, ESV). That has to be one of the strangest statements found in the Bible. It contains a small paradox. Apparently, the Bible tells us that God took a break and rested after creating one of His masterpieces—the world that we live in and everything in it. The statement is strange because we know from other parts of Scripture that God does not become weary nor tired. And yet, we find that God rested on the seventh day after creation. Why? It appears that God really wanted to take a break (a break that He’s most entitled to, by the way) to simply enjoy His handiwork. It also appears that He was setting a rhythm of life for the rest of us—a rhythm that we know all too well: the rhythm of work and rest.
It’s clear in Scripture that God desires for us to carve out time to rest from the work that we do. The fourth commandment in the Decalogue states: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-10a, ESV). The Bible continues by exhorting us to rest on the seventh day. One of God’s clear expectations is that we will take the time to receive proper rest on a weekly basis. It’s something that we’re going to need for our own well-being—our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We need proper rest so that we can continue to work productively and fruitfully in this world and as part of God’s kingdom.
I once met a pastor who confessed to me that he felt like “a well that had no water in it.” He couldn’t draw water from that well to give to others because it was completely dry and empty. I suspected that he was dry and empty because he wasn’t getting the proper rest—rest that should involve a regular form of physical replenishment, creative recreation, and spiritual renewal. Getting the proper rest once a week is one of the God-ordained ways for us to replenish our energy reserves so that we can continue to serve Him and His kingdom faithfully.
Do you feel like a well with no water in it? Do you always feel tired physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? If so, I’m guessing you’re in a need of a proper Sabbath. In the next post, I’ll share some of the things that I do on my Sabbath in the hopes that it would also help you plan out your own day of rest.