The Gift of Rest

Are you like me – you have a list of that needs to be done and you cross things off as you go? Then I get down to a few things left I rewrite the list and add more. It seems the list never ends!

This can be so draining and it seems there is no time to rest. I remember once years ago I prayed and said Lord, could you please give me 27 hours in my day? You can leave everyone else with the 24 but it would be great to have a few extra hours. The answer I got came immediately, “No! Because you wouldn’t use them to rest, you’d just fill them with more work.”

The Lord set us a wonderful example from the very beginning, He rested! He worked creating all that we see and enjoy and He rested! Then when the Law was being given to the Israelites after they came out of Egypt they were told to rest. Keep the Sabbath which meant no work. It was time to rest and reflect on the Lord and His goodness. We are pretty good about keeping the other 10 Commandments but we gloss over or ignore completely that God commanded us to keep the Sabbath. He knew we need rest!

It isn’t even December 1st and I’m sure some of you have your calendar filled right up to Christmas Day. So much to do, so many things that have to be just perfect. But in all the planning and activity you lose sight of the true peace that God brought to us all. We need to rest and let God’s presence restore our soul! Do you see that – the word “restore” – what are the first four letters “rest”. We are restored by resting.

“Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest.” Matthew 11:28-29 ERV

When Jesus was here on earth he would often go away by himself to rest and pray. He found strength in prayer. We need to learn from Him on how to release our burdens and rest in God’s strength and power.

“I will always look to you, as you stand beside me and protect me from fear. 9 With all my heart, I will celebrate, and I can safely rest.” Psalm 16:8-9 CEV

One of the biggest causes of stress is fear. Take a look at it – fear that things won’t get done correctly or in time, fear that we won’t be understood in what we are trying to convey, fear that someone else will get the promotion or make the team or surpass us on the project. Fear. But when we focus on God’s presence being ALWAYS with us we can celebrate and rest.

“You protect ordinary people, and when I was helpless, you saved me 7 and treated me so kindly that I don’t need to worry anymore. 8 You, Lord, have saved my life from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Psalm 116:6-8 CEV

One translation of verse 7 says “return to rest”.

May I encourage you to take time to rest this Christmas Season. Rest by remembering the message of the angels on that first Christmas night “Good news of great joy”. Rest in the memories of special Christmases past, things weren’t perfect, mishaps happened but the love of Christ filled your home and your heart.

Or maybe you have never really enjoyed Christmas. It just seemed like all the hustle and hype left you lonely or even angry. This year take time to “rest” and learn from the Lord what a wondrous time of year it is, if you ask Him, he’ll show you.

I want to close with the words from an old Christmas carol that seem so very appropriate

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

I truly hope you are enjoying opening the presents of Christmas each morning and I encourage you to share them with your friends.