I’ve been thinking for awhile of writing a more intentional devotional here every Monday. Sometimes it’s well thought out, and more often than not, it’s just a hodgepodge of what I’m thankful for, even when everything isn’t perfect, because I think that thankfulness is a way to joy. It’s not about having everything you want. It’s about recognizing God at work where you are.
When this blog started, it was a way for my mom and family living across the country to see what was going on with us. Since then, I’ve gained readers from all over the world, through 2 main avenues. One, is through my circle of Christian friends and bloggers, and the other through my knitting friends, and network.
I have long debated about separating the blog into a knitting blog, and a devotional type blog. But then do I keep a third blog to document our family’s journey through life? Where does that fit? My life just isn’t compartmentalized like that. My brain is spaghetti; it’s all connected. I’m reading on these writing sites about finding your niche and staying there with your writing. I can’t just pick one, though. I love knitting. I love God. I love my family. But some of my readers may not care to read about God, and maybe some of my Christian friends have no desire to read about crafting of any sort.
So here’s what I’m going to do (since it’s my blog and no one can stop me). I really want to start writing some more real, deep, devotional material. I’m going to try to post that every Monday morning, as that’s the morning I typically need the most “pumping up.” If my faith offends you, take this as fair warning to skip reading the blog that morning. I’m going to pull all the stops and make it really religious and everything. But don’t feel like I want to exclude you to because we don’t share the same faith. You’re welcome to stay and read, and hopefully be blessed by it as well.
Other days I’ll write about knitting, or life, which may or may not be about my faith. It will pretty much be like always. I’ve also thought about changing the name of blog to something a bit more simple, but can’t think of anything right now. So without further ado:
You’ve done it. I’ve done it. Every mom I know has been there at one point or another. You are exhausted. You are in desperate need of a break. You want to run away from home. In an act of tempers flaring, yelling, and/or crying, you get yourself a break, either from a bubble bath, locking yourself in the bathroom, going for a walk, going out with your friends, or if you are really lucky, some sort of retreat/vacation.
You sit there and stew over 2 conflicting boiling emotions: guilt that you are being such a bad mom because you abandoned your work or you feel like your kids are this huge burden, and anger that no one is helping you. It’s isolating. You feel unseen, unheard, unloved.
You think that if you could just get a breather, or if you could actually have enough energy to spend time in the Bible, you could be doing so much better. You’re running on fumes, and you are very aware of that…and no one around you seems to take notice.
There should be zero guilt in resting. There is nothing wrong with needing rest. I know those verses in the Proverbs are filling your head right now, about the sluggard, and the lazy people, and what will befall them. That’s talking about the abuse of rest. That’s not talking about rest. God designed many good things, but the abuse and twisting of those things is wrong, not the things themselves.
Let’s take a look at how God first brought up the topic of rest:
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation”
It’s a bit repetitive, but usually the ancient languages did that to emphasize a thought.
So God made a plan for rest in the beginning. This planned rest was named the “Sabbath.” Did you notice that rest was a part of the creation, not a part of the fall? Sin doesn’t enter the world until Genesis 3. Rest was not a product of sin. It was part of the original creation. This is key. You don’t need rest because you are somehow flawed. You need rest because you are God’s creation. If sin never entered the world, and everything was perfect, you would still need rest.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days, the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
This verse above is an excerpt from the 10 commandments. Yep, right there in-between misusing God’s name and honoring your parents. It’s listed before do not lie, steal, or murder. Why do you think that is?
Here’s what I think. I think that when we don’t rest, we are saying that God’s design must be flawed. We’re saying his method is madness. We say that his provision isn’t enough, and we need to pad it a bit. It’s saying that we know better. It’s saying we have too much to do that we don’t have the time to pause and thank God for all he has done. Why bother? We’re doing all the work anyway. I don’t see anyone lined up to help, do you? It’s making yourself the giver and provider of all things good. Never the receiver.
At it’s philosophical core, it’s self-centered. That’s the beauty of it, from Satan’s perspective. We think we’re sacrificing everything for our work, but in reality, we are saying that we are the Savior, and everything would fall apart if it weren’t for us. We hold the world in our hands, after all. (There are exceptions, as I’ll talk about later, as rest is also a part of community living. Without a strong community, people are forced to go without rest.) Notice, the 10 commandments were given to a community, and held accountable as a community.
Let’s take a look at some passages on how God felt about people not taking the ordained “Sabbath” that he designed, and commanded:
The prophet Jeremiah also talks about it, in chapter 17. It’s actually a very long frustration God is proclaiming against Judah, and the kings of Judah. Here is a portion of it:
“This says the LORD: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or gates of Jerusalem. And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers. Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction.” Jeremiah 17:21-23.
You can find many other passages like this one. God was mad at his people very often in the Old Testament because they wouldn’t stop working, and honor the Sabbath he ordained. (Apparently we aren’t the only culture of workaholics.) I want us to ask once again, why was the Sabbath so important to God? Why did he want his people to obey this commandment, and take a regular day of rest?
Like all of God’s laws, it’s good for us. For the sake of our lives it says. I honestly think (and science supports this) that we work harder and more efficiently when we have regular rest. Resting makes our work more effective. We actually get more done. We are healthier when we have rest. Most importantly, we are forced to rely on God, and each other when we rest. Resting out of obedience, not exhaustion, means you stop. It means you cannot be the savior of all things. It’s an act of placing God on his throne, and stepping back. It’s an act of faith.
Resting is obedience. It is not an indulgence. It is part of our original design.
Let’s also recognize, that we can’t do it. Let’s face it. We’re going to do work on the Sabbath no matter how Orthodox you are. As Jesus said, (after being criticized for healing on the Sabbath) if your sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, you’re going to take it out, right?
This might be the most impossible commandment, in my opinion. Resting is not always easy. Do you ever sit there, and all the things that need to get done just start eating at you as you think of them? Do you worry people who are helping you won’t get it right? Do you think the world will fall apart if your bit of work doesn’t get done? This is most especially true if you are a mother. You’re not getting out of dirty diapers, dishes, and disciplining on the Sabbath. We need some kind of visual of what rest looks like in the context of motherhood. I have been chasing this question for a few years. How is this done with kids? Yes, perhaps this is something that we can train them into, but what about until then? Are we exempt? Or is everyone exempt, in light of the fact that Jesus is the completion of the law. And if we are exempt, does that mean we don’t need to rest anymore? I want to share more of these details of what I found in my search in the coming weeks.
There’s still so much to add to this topic. I feel like I’m just getting going. You’ll have to wait for next Monday to read more. If you want a reminder, you can follow me on Facebook, or sign up for email reminders on the sidebar of the blog. I’m going to talk about how the Sabbath always had a plan, it wasn’t just whenever you felt like it. There’s a method to it. I’m going to go much, much deeper about what it means for Jesus to be our Sabbath. Still another day, we’ll talk about pseudo-rest, or things that enter our lives under the illusion of rest, as well as what rest means from a community standpoint, not just individuals. We will talk about legalism surrounding the concept of rest, and how to address rest without a legalistic formula. Stay tuned.
If you are on social media, I would appreciate (if you’re so inclined) you sharing a link to this post (or any of the posts to come) with your friends, most especially those you feel could use a good encouragement and source for rest.