Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Earlier this week an article was shared with me. It’s short and written for pastors, but the logic applies to us all. I’ll adapt it a bit, but I recommend you glance at it. You can find it here.
Go. Go. Go.
Run. Run. Run.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
Now that Christmas has long faded from the rearview mirror, we have likely settled back into some form of a work/school routine. But even with that return to a “normal” schedule, our lives have not necessarily slowed down. In fact, with the New Year we have also probably tried to start new habits and maintain workable resolutions that have unintentionally added more demands and more pressure. New professional goals at the office. The start of winter sports and activities in schools. Attempts to get healthy. As good and as enjoyable these things may be, they also often intensify the rat race we cannot seem to ever really get out of.
Today our rhythms of work and rest are broken. Hard work and independence are among the greatest virtues in many of our cultures. Rest is reduced to laziness. Laziness and dependence are seen as failures. We are encouraged to hustle and hurry, to keep pushing and driving until our hard work is rewarded with what we want.
Hectic. Tired. Stressed.
What is one to do?
Martin Luther talked often about rest and Sabbath, the importance of working hard but also balancing that with more recreational moments of life. He made sure to teach the value in taking time to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep or a good Wittenberg beer in the company of good friends. The essence of the Sabbath is this: God wants to give you rest! He wants you to find rest in Jesus. Rest is good. It is God-ordained. It is necessary. Jesus himself said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28, 29) Jesus is the heart and soul of the Sabbath! The word Sabbath literally means “rest.” This is Jesus telling you to slow down and rest in Him. Jesus declares that the only way to truly get rest in this crazy world, is to spend time time with Him.
Most importantly, Jesus wants you to rest from the hardest work of all. The work of trying to justify yourself. And that is hard work! And many people are engaged in the trade. We want to be justified. We want other people to justify us. We want people to declare, “That is a good man!” “That is a good woman!” And so we work to be called “good” people. People work and work and work to convince themselves they are “good people” before a fast-paced, ever-demanding world.
Friends, if that describes you even a little, take a break! Get some rest! Get some rest…in Jesus. Rest yourself in the Word of God, for that is where you find the beautiful good news of a God who loves you to the point of a cross and empty tomb. Come to worship, and find rest for yourself in the words of grace and in the sacraments of the church. Rest yourself at the altar and let Jesus do all the work, the work of serving you his given body and shed blood so that your soul can be at rest. There's nothing you need to do. No task to finish. Just simply be and let the God of all creation, come to you and take care of you. Imagine… Jesus works for you! Rest in that truth. Don’t allow your work—whatever that may be—to become an idol. Find a day, or even a few hours, where the time is holy, the time is different. Put away your phone, computer, and any other buzzing notifications in your life. Silence the rhythm of the busy world and listen to the rhythm of rest. Receive the rest Jesus gives you freely. Make room for rest; make room for play in your life.
“The spiritual rest which God especially intends in this commandment (3rd) is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more-that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers do we do nothing of our own.” (Martin Luther)
Pastor Steve Vera