Rest and Relaxation
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You must have rest to do your best.—David Brandt Berg
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”—Exodus 33:141
“Rest” is defined as “peace, ease or refreshment.” “Relax” means “to become loose or less firm, to have a milder manner, to be less stiff.” The Bible speaks quite highly of rest. It is a repeated theme throughout Scripture, beginning with the creation week.2 God created for six days; then He rested, not because He was tired, but to set the standard for mankind to follow. The Ten Commandments made resting on the Sabbath a requirement of the Law.3
Notice that God said, “Remember the Sabbath.” It wasn’t something new; it had been around since creation. All God’s people and their servants and the animals were to have one day in seven to rest. The command to rest was not an excuse to be lazy. You had to work for six days to get to the Sabbath. The land also needed to rest.4 God is very serious about rest.
God desires rest for us because it does not come naturally to us. To rest, we have to trust that God will take care of things for us. We have to trust that, if we take a day off, the world will not stop turning on its axis. From the beginning,5 when we decided that we would start making all the decisions, mankind has become more tense and less able to relax. It was disobedience in the Garden that started the problem, but obedience now will bring the rest that God so desires for us.6 If one of the definitions of “relax” is “to become less firm,” then relaxing our grip on our own lives, careers, families, etc., and giving them over to God in faith is the best way to relax.
For the Christian, the ultimate rest is found in Christ. He invites all who are “weary and burdened” to come to Him and cast our cares on Him.7 It is only in Him that we find our complete rest—from the cares of the world, from the sorrows that plague us, and from the need to work to make ourselves acceptable to Him. We no longer observe the Jewish Sabbath because Jesus is our Sabbath rest. In Him we find complete rest from the labors of our self-effort, because He alone is holy and righteous. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”8 We can now cease from our spiritual labors and rest in Him, not just one day a week, but always.—From gotquestions.org9
An archaeologist once hired some Inca tribesmen to lead him to an archaeological site deep in the mountains. After they had been moving for some time the tribesmen stopped and insisted they would go no further. The archaeologist grew impatient and then angry. But no matter how much he cajoled, the tribesmen would not go any further.
Then all of a sudden the tribesmen changed their attitude. They picked up the gear and set off once more. When the bewildered archaeologist asked why they had stopped and refused to move for so long, the tribesmen answered, “We had been moving too fast and had to wait for our souls to catch up.”—From storiesforpreaching.com
A time for everything: A time to relax and a time to be busy, a time to frolic and a time to labor, a time to receive and a time to give, a time to begin and a time to finish.—Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Being tired is something we can all relate to, yet Jesus tells us, “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.”10
The word “yoke” in this verse has little meaning for most of us urban city dwellers, but in Asia, you still often see both men and women carrying huge loads to market. They manage by using a wooden frame across the shoulders with baskets hanging from each end. The secret is in keeping a perfect balance. They’ve developed a rhythmic walk so neither basket swings too far out on either side.
Even though Jesus knew His time on earth was short, He didn’t get frantic and try to cram as much as He could into each working day. Instead, He managed to carry His big loads by keeping a balance, resting when He was tired,11 and encouraging His disciples to do the same.12 He also made time to get away, pray, and hear from His Father.13
We also can carry big loads if we get into the right rhythm, keeping a balance between attending to our responsibilities and taking time away to rest and recharge.—Dina Ellens
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.—Author unknown
The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.—Gordon Hinckley
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.—Thomas Merton
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Sometimes when you are quite weary, all you can think about is finding rest. As a result, your awareness of My presence grows dim. I assure you, though, that even when your attention falters, Mine remains steadfast. Rejoice that the One who always takes care of you has an infinite attention span!
Even the most devoted parents cannot be constantly attentive to their children: they have to sleep some of the time. Also, they can be distracted by other demands on their attention. … Only I have the capability of watching over My beloved children continually—without the least interruption.
Instead of worrying about where and when you will find rest, remember that I have promised to provide it for you. Worrying wastes vast quantities of energy—the very thing you need most to help you reach a resting place. If you were driving a car with little gas in the tank and the nearest service station was far away, you would drive carefully and steadily—so as to minimize gas consumption. Similarly, when you are low on energy you need to minimize consumption of this precious commodity. Go gently and steadily through your day, looking to Me for help. Rest in the knowledge that My watch-care over you is perfect. Thus, you can make the most of your limited energy. Whenever you are struggling with weariness, come to Me and I will give you rest.—Jesus14
Published on Anchor June 2020. Read by Jerry Paladino. Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Genesis 2:2–3.
3 Exodus 20:8–11.
4 Leviticus 25:4, 8–12.
5 Genesis 3.
6 Hebrews 3:7–4:11.
7 Matthew 11:28; 1 Peter 5:7.
8 2 Corinthians 5:21.
10 Matthew 11:28–29 NIV.
11 See Matthew 8:24.
12 See Mark 6:31.
13 See Mark 1:35.
14 Sarah Young, Jesus Lives (Thomas Nelson, 2009).