This week, I am experiencing the consequences of failing to assign proper priority of rest in my life. And the worst part is that I should have known better!
Last Sunday, our pastor's wife gave an excellent talk on the importance of rest. She chose this topic because she felt that God led her to speak about this to our Sunday School class in particular. I heard it, but I didn't receive it. For years, my husband has been telling me that I don't place a high enough value on rest. In fact, a few days ago, my husband wanted to talk to me. He had been praying for me in regard to some of the very strange, unexpected and somewhat disappointing situations that I am experiencing right now. He told me that, as he was praying, God impressed on him that one thing that He wants me to learn during this season of life is how to rest. I heard it, but I didn't receive it.
I went about my usual week which included working on a very challenging project that is important to me. So, I worked during the day, for part of the evening and then burned the midnight oil, staying up much later than I should have. Then, after an inadequate amount of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed and to my exercise class where I gave it all the energy I could manage to expend. Is it any surprise that I have spent the past few days feeling exhausted, achy and fighting off my first illness of the year? When, oh when, will I learn the value of investing in rest? I have discovered that God often speaks when we have been humbled enough to actually listen. The other day, I opened my Bible and came across this small, but very powerful commandment that was given to the Hebrews in the Old Testament: "For six days you are to work, but on the seventh day you are to rest; even during plowing time and harvest you are to rest." (Exodus 34:21, emphasis mine).
Do you notice that this verse goes beyond the commandment from the Big Ten - "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20:8) The Jews received a clarification on the commandment about the Sabbath. They were to observe the Sabbath by taking a day of rest even during plowing time and harvest time. For those who make their living by cultivating the land, plowing and harvesting are important and time-sensitive activities. They do not plow and harvest whenever they feel like it. Rather, they consider all the variables and determine best time to plow and harvest in order to get the best return for their investment of resources. But the Jews were commanded to take a day of rest even during the time when their most important and time-sensitive work needed to be done!
As Christians, we live under the new covenant and are no longer obligated to live under the strict customs and commands of Jewish law. Instead, we live under a higher law, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12) "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength...Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)
Still, we can't ignore the example that God set for us when He rested after six days of creative work (Genesis 2:2-3). And we are wise to remember that God's commands are for our benefit (Psalm 119:35). While we are not obligated to observe the Sabbath as one under Jewish law, it would be wise for us to deliberately take time to rest so that we can enjoy the benefits of the principles behind the Sabbath:
As a woman who values her health, I admit that I have often spent more time talking about rest than actually resting. And I realize that, in order to truly reap the benefits of rest,
I need to be willing to deliberately take the time to rest even during times when my work is important and time-sensitive.
Rest even during the race to meet a deadline at work. Rest even during preparations for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rest even during the near completion of a high value home project. Rest even during final exams week. Rest even during the completion of the tasks you are crossing off your "To Do" list today. While a day of rest a week is best, even smaller amounts of intentional rest can help us to refresh our body and mind, remember our God and reconnect with others.
May God give us all the faith and discipline to "rest even during" for the benefit of our physical, mental and spiritual health. And may God help me to listen and take to heart the wise instruction of others so I don't have to learn the hard way next time!
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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