I am sitting by the window today, watching the snow pile up. It’s mesmerizing to watch the slow, floating snowflakes fall to earth. Add a hot bowl of soup to this moment, and you have a perfect scenario for a bit of day-dreaming. There are not many days in the year when these moments are available to us.
The mid-winter months are a good time to slow down a bit. The holidays are over. The hustle of shopping, parties, and travel is a memory. It’s cold outside, and many of our normal activities are out-of-season, until the sun burns brighter and longer in the spring.
These next few weeks are a good time to focus on the concept of rest. Taking an hour, or a day, or a weekend to step out of our normal drive-mode of life, and just rest. For this discussion, rest does not equal sleep. I am not suggesting that we hibernate like bears who need a way to survive the winter.
God has given us the gift of rest to help us maintain a healthy work-life and spiritual life. It is not humanly possible to be “switched-on” 100% of the time. Beyond our daily sleep needs, our bodies and our souls need a break.
God established the work week in his creative process. God worked for several days straight, to create the earth, nature, and man. But on the 7th day, he rested. In Genesis 2:2 we read, “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.”
I do not believe that God took a nap on Day 7. I believe he took time to stop working, and consider the beauty of his creation. He allotted time to think about his activity, instead of just pushing forward. And God knew that a day of rest was both good and necessary for his image-bearers. He established the 7th day for this reason. He blessed it and deemed it holy. I think God’s blessing of the 7th day is his seal of approval for the concept of purposeful rest in Him.
On our toughest days, we are not creating mountains and oceans like God did. Our jobs, families, and other responsibilities require our full attention, and we have to work hard to keep up. God knows that because of sin our lives in this world are filled with hard labor and continuous mental challenges.
That’s why Jesus offered us himself. In Matthew 11:28 he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus makes the promise that we can find rest in him. He understands our burdens, offers forgiveness for our sin, and provides the comfort that our minds and souls desperately need. Our time spent in prayer and studying the Scriptures is a restful activity. We shouldn’t view this as work or just another responsibility to check off our list.
Our human need is to find purpose in our daily activity and work. And the tendency is to think that we can earn that purpose and meaning – even by doing good things. Performance won’t give us the lasting, internal peace and joy we were created to experience. It’s only found in Jesus Christ. That’s what Jesus means in verse 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.” Jesus alone is the balm for our weary spirits; he satisfies our restless hearts.
When we believe that, when we hold on to the truth that we are forever loved by God, then our service takes on a whole new meaning – worship. By first finding our comfort and security in God, we are then freed to serve him and others.
So, do you need a break today? Take time today to pray, read God’s Word, and meditate on the gospel. This will inevitably lead you to Jesus Christ – the lover of your soul.