I just finished an enjoyable week of vacation and truly feel rested. It was actually a “staycation” as we didn’t vacate the premises, we simply stayed home. We had some things around the house that needed done and some things we just wanted to do locally. I told someone about our plans and they said: “that doesn’t sound like much of a vacation to me.” That brings up an interesting question – how can working on our house be restful?
Rest often comes not by ceasing activity, but by changing activity. We certainly need physical rest (and I did sleep in a couple of days), but often we need our minds and hearts refreshed and our soul renewed. That comes by sitting aside our normal work and enjoying our Lord. We do that by focusing on him, his word, and the many great gifts he has given us. Working on the house can be physically exhausting, as can extended travel, camping, hunting, sightseeing, and a variety of other typical vacation activities. Yet that “change of pace” refreshes us. We come back to our work with a new energy. employers recognize the value of giving their employees time off as productivity increases.
This rhythm of work and rest is built into our very nature. we are created in the image of God who worked (created) and rested. He rested not because he was exhausted, but to reflect on what he had done. It was a pattern he established for us. Of course, after the sin and fall of mankind in Genesis 3 our work became much more difficult and rest is desperately needed. That is why the Lord established a weekly rest from normal activity – a Sabbath. It was instituted because of our need, and we cannot ignore that principle of life and function well. We benefit from vacations, but we need that weekly change of pace to focus on our Lord and our life.
There is as well a different kind of rest that everyone of us needs. We need the restoration of our souls that only comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. We grow weary of pain, struggle, conflict, failure, and most of all sin. It is a weight we carry with us through life, but it doesn’t have to be so. Jesus said; “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).
Note that Jesus does not call us to a cessation of activity. He calls us to exchange a heavy burden for a light yoke. As we come to him there is much we are called to do, but we will find that our souls are wonderfully refreshed as we now work for him. We are saved by his grace, not by anything we do, but we are saved for “good works.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is in the activities that he now gives us that we find the rest we truly need.
Don’t make the mistake that many have in thinking that coming to Jesus means you no longer work. That is the spiritual equivalent of not physically working but sitting in a hospital waiting room. You find yourself still exhausted. If you have not yet placed your faith in Christ alone for salvation do that first, but then explore the activities he call us to do. In that work you will find great rest!