Monday, June 27, 2011

Do You Rest Weekly?

  I recently returned from a week of teen mission camp. There were 15 of us in 3 vans driving 12 hours one way to make a difference in the city of Tuscaloosa, AL after the Tornado’s from April. The night we arrived we were excited and got settled and started off the time in the evening worship. What followed was very little sleep on a gym floor with over 100 other people. Each day was labor intense in the hot sun and each evening mixed with fun. Truly the event was life changing for many who attended for multiple reasons. We returned late Saturday night before dark. Teens and adults were tired and the adults probably more so from the extra drain of driving for 12 hours. Throughout the week I never slept more than 6 hours on any given night. Then when we got home, I had Sunday responsibilities to be prepared for and minister out of again. 

  I am observing today on the 9th day that I went 8 days in a row of giving, going, working, driving and very little sleep. I am not complaining, but rather reflecting and observing my own schedule in this particular time frame. Please do not take this wrong, for the whole week was a "blast", but at the same time it was a full tilt schedule for 8 solid days in a row. As a pastor, Sunday is a day of worship and rest for the body of Christ which is a good thing. Attending worship services to learn, fellowship, sing, give and is to be a spiritually inspiring time every week. Yet for the shepherds and those who minister to the body of Christ it is technically a day of work to empower others to experience a great day of rest.  As a pastor, it is hard for me to take a total biblical day off and rest, renew and reflect without some demand requesting me and my time. It is hard for me to take a full day of rest without giving, but I know I have too in order to be biblically balanced.

         As I reflect back on my day off (Monday) I can see that I broke my schedule for rest. I broke a command for a rhythm of rest unintentionally. Thank you Jesus for the Grace to forgive and reveal your wisdom!   I drove and did ministry for at least 12 hours on what was my typical day off to rest last week. Please know I am not a legalist, as I do know and understand the grace of God.  I don’t "feel" like I sinned because all that I did for 8 days was ministry and good things, but technically I did not take a shut down day off with God like He commands all believers to do as he did after 6 days of creation Himself. 
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he restedc from all his work. And 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 2:1-3
 I also know that the law does not redeem me, but it’s the sacrifice of Christ which is my redemption. My intent was good and I am set free from the law, but the law still is there for my good and the good of others as well. I actually feel God’s grace in a refreshing way just writing the truth of this experience.

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:4-6

So why am I writing about rest when I did not do so well this past week at it? Because I am observing in me how easy it is with totally good intentions to miss the mark of the cycles and rhythms of God’s perfect protective laws for our own good. If I took apart each of the last 8 days I probably could figure out a way to justify 8 days of work without rest, but the bottom line is, regardless of the reasons I feel very tired today and as I reflect back I can see I'm off sync. I can see 8 days of non-stop from my usual cycle and I am paying the price in my body if not in other areas.

    This recent lack of rest in the intent of ministry helped me see afresh the wonder of His love for me and how he designed me to rest in cycles and rhythms for a reason. The intent of the Sabbath was rest with renewing purpose and not rule adherence. It's just a rule of every 7th day that helps us stay in sync with Him and our design and others.
 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?   Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”   When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.  Luke 13:14-17
     Each day requires its own rest and last week going to bed after midnight with teens in a gym and waking up by 6 a.m. was not a great cycle each day. The lack of daily rest compounded on top of the next. I tend to be a night owl way to often anyway and I can see better now how even that does not help my life very much. Not only has God instructed us to physically and spiritually rest and renew one day a week, but there is also the need for daily healthy cycles as well.

Do realize that observing a Sabbath rest is written in the list of commandments along with do not kill, do not steal and do not bear false witness? This reveals to me that to totally ignore the need to rest weekly is as much a violation to ourselves as much as it is to God and others who have to live with us. How much different would we all be if we keep this command weekly? 

If more professing believers observed a Sabbath rest the first day of the week before 6 full days of activity/work I wonder if we might also observe a lot less sin and other violations among each other. Does a lack of rest leave us less sensitive to the Holy Spirit in daily obedience? Does the lack of rest cause us to stumble more in sin against one another? Does the lack of rest cause us to run on empty and shorten our fuse with one another causing more quarreling and fighting? Does Rest Really matter?  I believe rest matters greatly. On one hand, not resting creates problems for us and on the other hand resting too much is defined as laziness and causes another set of problems as well. Bottom line is we need to work out of rest and rest weekly. If we do not do this, then the lack of rest creates disruptions in our lives and those around us.

In some regards rest is as meaningful to our bodies and minds and moods as food is the fuel for our bodies to live on. We need rest and we need it daily, weekly and for the remainder of our earthly lives. A weekly rest does not need to be a certain day of the week as much as it needs to be 1 day each weekly cycle which ever day that is for us, but when we can all be on the same day as a community / culture is makes it so much easier.

 Sunday in America had been a shut down rest observing day for the last couple centuries, but now as we live in a post Christian era the secularist time clock has taken over. 24/7 living and working is now the norm. The Sabbath is not reinforced culturally and therefore requires more personal discipline to accomplish then it ever has.

  Even the convenience store 711 has out grown its original objective of being open early at 7 a.m. and closing late at 11 p.m.  I see the scriptural reason, rhythm and benefits of observing and enjoying His law more then ever. He sure does love me and He loves you as well.
  As I Rest with Him each week I am discovering that it is also much more productive to Work out of Rest then it is to Rest from Work. When we mess the cycles up we mess ourselves up and when we mess ourselves up, we usual end up messing up others along the way too. What a great God we serve who loves us enough to set the example with us in Resting. May we rest daily and weekly and be extremely fruitful for His honor and glory.

Do You Rest Weekly?  do you have a rest area weekly with God and His People while on the Journey of life?

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