As of the print-date of this paper, we have 21 days until Thanksgiving! (Pause and allow heart-rate to go back down to normal.) Since this is the time of year that our lives start to get really busy – as if we weren’t busy enough – I thought it fitting to encourage us all to be in a state of rest throughout the holiday season.
Some of you may be thinking, “A state of rest? With all the shopping and decorating around the corner I’ll barely have time to have a sit-down meal with my family! What do you mean ‘a state of rest’?”
Well, I’m not talking about a couch-potato marathon-movie-day kind of rest. Rather, I’m talking about being in a state of rest in the midst of the crazy activity. It’s possible!
The Bible talks a lot about rest. It’s a common theme throughout the Scriptures and it started back in the very beginning when God created the universe and the earth and everything in it. If you went to Sunday school as a child you remember the story, right? “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2).”
God Himself rested, not because He needed to, but rather to set the standard for mankind to follow. We really should have at least one day off every week to recharge! By doing so, we are saying, “God, I trust that you’ll keep my family and my career – my whole world – from falling apart if I take a day off because, well, there is SO much that needs to get done for my world to stay intact!” I wouldn’t be surprised if your shoulder muscles just relaxed a bit after contemplating this.
There’s something deeper, though, as to why God established a day of rest for humanity. The establishment of this commandment anticipates the offer for us to enter into an actual state of rest. This rest is an ultimate rest that is found in Christ. A rest from the worries of this world and a rest from the sorrows that plague us. A rest from the need to somehow earn our way into God’s good graces (Hebrews 4:9).
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30; “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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Isn’t that awesome?!
Here’s the catch: This rest that Jesus offers in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the soon-approaching holidays… this rest is experienced through obedience.
The author of the book of Hebrews wrote that if you hear God’s voice don’t reject what He’s saying to you (Hebrews 3:7-8). At this moment He’s saying that through your obedience to Him you can experience this state of perpetual rest. But how?
It’s simple really. All you need to do is believe.
Your first act of obedience is to believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be: eternal God who was born of a virgin into this world to live a sinless life as the God-Man to reconcile humanity – to reconcile you – to God through His death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection from the dead.
Hebrews provides more insight, and I paraphrase loosely, “Now, see to it that none of you has an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. The promise of entering His rest stands. This is indescribably good news for us who are familiar with fear, worry, and anxiety. Be careful that none of you are found to be fallen short of this glorious rest being a reality in your lives! Now we who believe have entered into that rest (Heb 3:12- 4:3)!”
In this section of Scripture, the first act of obedience – to believe – is mentioned a few times. Although there’s something else that’s definitely worth mentioning.
The author warns us to not fall short of this perpetual rest being a reality in our lives. If that’s the case then maybe, just maybe, our belief wasn’t dynamic enough to result in an actual lifestyle of obedience. To summarize the book of James: to say that we believe and yet not show any evidence of said belief, well, what value is there in that belief?
Well then, what would some of the evidences be? A solid “textbook” answer would be as follows: to be in communion with God through a vibrant prayer life and enlightening Bible study, meaningful fellowship with other believers, and a fervent desire to see others experience that state of rest that results in freedom from fear, worry, and anxiety.
As the holiday season approaches, you can be rest assured that engaging in such activities would make Jesus’ promise a reality! “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… rest for your souls.”
~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 23 years and have three children age 13 years and under. Jacob (13), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 12 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Times- Advocate.