We’ve all been there before: it’s a weekday morning before we go to work, and we can’t help but lay in bed and dream about how perfect it would be to go back to sleep. The sound of the rain hitting the roof only adds to our desire to rationalize the decision, and the knowledge of getting out of our warm bed and entering the cold January day seems to be the final nail in the coffin. For most of us, the story ends with being a little more rushed than usual that particular morning. But there’s something deeper I want to look at in this scenario. I believe our Creator has wired the desire for rest deep inside of us.
When most of us think of rest, we quickly turn our minds to the physical reality of sleep. While sleep is definitely connected to rest, I also want us to consider about a spiritual reality for rest that we all have. Rest is a theme woven through the Old and New Testament in Scripture. In the Creation narrative, God speaks all things into existence over six days, breathes life into Adam, and rests on the seventh. In doing so, God is not displaying any weakness. He’s setting a precedent for us to follow.
When we fast forward to God’s covenant with the Israelites after the exodus from Egypt, rest would be one of the ways God would mark His people as His own. Sabbath rest is part of the instructions for when the people gathered manna (Exodus 16-17). Sabbath rest is a commandment given by God in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-10). Also, God’s instructions regarding the Sabbath serve as bookends at the end of the instructions regarding the tabernacle (Exodus 31:12-18) and the beginning of its construction after the covenant is reestablished (Exodus 35:1-3).
God places emphasis on His people resting, not just physically, but spiritually. The reality is that true rest can only come from Him.
This rest is something we’re all searching for. We feel it on the cold, rainy days as we long to go back to sleep. We feel it at the end of long times of work. We feel it on those days that are more emotionally taxing. Each and every time, our exhaustion reminds us of two things: we aren’t God, and we need the rest only He can provide.
The Israelites needed the reminder that God was in control. Everything they were given, including the Promise Land to which they traveled, was a gift from God. Their blessings were not a result of their own striving, By taking a day and pausing everything, they were not only imitating their Creator and King, but showing that they trusted God would take care of them.
The same is true for us today. Consider for a moment that we spend roughly 1/3rd of our lives asleep- powerless, defenseless, and unaware of the world around us. For the most part, this trend is unexplainable. We sleep because, well, we need it. And even in this simple act of stopping everything to lay down and recharge, it’s an opportunity for us to worship God and show how we trust He is in control.
Ultimately, we need the spiritual rest only He can provide. Look at these words of Jesus from Matthew 11:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
We all feel the pressures of the world around us. Stress, anxiety, and worry are the defining characteristics of man of our lives. Where can we find hope and rest? Where can we go to finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief and remove the weight of the world from our shoulders? Only Christ can rescue us and provide the rest that we need.
Only Jesus has given us a salvation which is secure. Only Jesus has given us a hope which is never changing. Only Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). So the next time you feel tired or feel the stresses of the world around you, remember the desire for rest has been placed inside you for a reason. Look to Christ and be satisfied.