Time for a new devotional series! I unintentionally took most of the Easter season off from posting – I think with my work on my MA studies along with the usual deadlines and lovely family life, I’ve been exerting more than I realized. I have about three more months of intensive work on the MA, and then – Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise – I’ll be done.
It seems fitting on many levels, not least for my own personal season, to explore the theme of Sabbath and rest. It can be a forgotten or overlooked command, but God wants us to switch off for our own good. Join me for this week’s introduction and first engagement with Scripture.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). So says Jesus, our friend and our example, the One who not only redeems us but gives us life.
After the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, sin and disease came into our world. Now we find it hard to rest, forever tempted by the distractions of our devices, the pain of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, the physical ailments that plague us. We wake too early in the morning, longing for sweet sleep, or find we can’t switch off our minds at night. We need the rest Jesus promises.
Part of achieving this rest flows out of our own planning and preparation as we approach the Sabbath. During this series over the next months, we’ll see how God created the Sabbath as a gift to us, as a means of giving us a rhythm of work and rest, for he knows we are his fragile human creation. As we set aside as holy one day for worship of the Lord and the enjoyment of his gifts and people, we begin to realize just how we need this time to renew and recharge. We are not machines that can keep on running; we need to stop and acknowledge our smallness in comparison with his greatness. He is God and we are not.
And as with Jesus’ words above, as we accept God’s command to rest, we see that it’s a gentle yoke and a light burden. The benefits are great as we learn to feast and switch off and enjoy true recreation – that is, the renewal of our souls and minds and bodies. We see rest as a life-giving gift.
I pray your love of the Sabbath will increase ever more as we engage together in a journey through God’s word, seeing how he created us and formed us, and how much he loves and adores us. May this pattern of living be one that gives you life.
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 1—2:1–3 (NIV)
Many of us associate the word Sabbath with a killjoy list of restrictions: no shopping, no work, no, no, no. But what if we saw the Sabbath as a thing of joy as we imitate our Creator and find rest for our bodies, minds and souls?
Reading the creation account may sound all-too-familiar, but as you do so today, think about the story from God’s point of view – well, as much as you can, being his created one. God, in the beginning, forms the heavens and the earth. Then the light and dark; the skies and the earth and waters and dry land; the plants and vegetation; the sun and the moon and the stars, the living creatures, the livestock. And he sees that it is good. Then he makes humanity in his image, giving them authority over the earth and animals, and he sees that it is very good.
As this story reveals, being the Creator is part of God’s nature; it flows in and out of him. And we are the pinnacle of his creation, formed in his image, called to create and collaborate with him. We are to rule over all the creatures, whether in the air, sea or land, and to cultivate the vegetation for food.
Made in God’s image, bearing his mandate, we are also called to rest as he rested. Had Adam and Eve not disobeyed the Lord in the Garden of Eden, I’m guessing our ability and desire to rest would come naturally. But with the consequences of the fall of humanity, we live in an imperfect world. And now we can struggle to switch off and find true Sabbath rest. May we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, find a spacious place to rest today.
Prayer: Creator God, you have made me in your image. Help me to reclaim the ability to find your peace and release as I rest in your love. Amen.