I don’t rest well. I never have. My mind is pretty rest-less, actually. Though I might physically find time or a place to rest, my mind likely isn’t; the effects of which have included insomnia, tendinitis, and anxiety, each of which have made a point to sprout up into my life in their respective seasons. According to The New York Times columnist, T. M. Luhrmann, this is no surprise. “Nearly one in five of us [Americans] — 18 percent — has an anxiety disorder,” she writes. “We spend over $2 billion a year on anti-anxiety medications. College students are often described as more stressed than ever before.”* So naturally, upon college graduation, I decided to move to the most relaxing place I could think of: Washington, DC.
This city is no joke. This traffic is no joke. This hustling, bustling, fast-paced, Washington metropolitan area life is no joke, and I am just trying to stay a float amidst it all. On top of the lifestyle, I have one of the craziest schedules I’ve ever had. As I reached my most fatigued state a few weeks ago, I wondered if I would be able to make it. Thankfully, I am still here. Not drowning, as I was earlier, but now treading, keeping my head above the water, but not fearing about whether or not I’ll make it out safely.
In order to really, truly benefit from rest, I have to find a way to clear time and space for it in my both my schedule and my physical location, as well as in my heart and my mind. For the past four years, that’s been much more doable than now. Though I managed to keep myself pretty busy in college, I was almost always able to carve out the time I needed in my schedule, whether daily or weekly, to rest. This year, as a Capital Fellow living and working near and in Washington, DC, that has been harder for me. This is the first time that I feel I have really had to be intentional about making time and space in my life to rest. Rest is no longer convenient… Last year: Have a two-hour gap between classes? Perfect. “Make time” for rest. This year: Have a 15-minute drive between class, work, children’s ministry, dinner, that phone call with mom, roundtable, and church? Perfect. Make time for rest. Can you feel the difference? I certainly do.
God knew we would drown if we didn’t make time to rest. We weren’t made to be machines; we were made to be the very image of a God who Himself rested after creating the world and everything in it. Genesis 2:3 says, “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 is this day of sabbat that God commands for us to keep too. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God”—Our rest is supposed to be dedicated to the Lord, God (Deuteronomy 5:13-14). What would my rest look and feel like if that were true? And while I don’t think God at all has a legalistic view of our rest, I think there probably are right and wrong ways of honoring the Lord in our rest.
Nowhere in scripture, to my knowledge, does it say what God did while he “rested.” If I had to take a guess, mine would be that God took the day to delight at all that He had made. It is my belief that God would want us to do the same on our day of rest too. I believe that whenever we delight, we are getting a sense of the way God feels when He delights in His creation. I delight in the successes and joys of my closest friends and family, in the bath of the sunrise or the hug of the mountains. I delight in the warmth of a mug with tea and in the twinkling, night sky. I delight in laugh lines and messy hair. I delight in creation and I delight in my God. I think God wants me to experience more delight in my weekly schedule; a delight inspired by and ultimately bringing me back to Him.
Another way I believe God wants to encourage us to delight in Him is by not forgetting who He is and what He has done for us, both at the most overarching and the most personal levels. “Remember,” says the Lord, “that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). God’s rescue of and for the Israelites was by no means other than an extension of His grace and mercy, and the same is true for us today. I was rescued by the God that is the author and giver of life and saved, not by any works of my own that I may boast, but through the completely unmerited gift of faith. The Bible offers us one potential reason why God chose to operate the world through this lens, when David writes, “He rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19). God’s work, rest, pleasure, and delight lead to His rescue—Praises be to Him who rescued me because of His delight! May I honor Him with my rest, designating my sabbath time to delight and awe in creation and the Creator Himself.
*Luhrmann, T. M. “The Anxious Americans.” The New York Times. July 18, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/opinion/sunday/the-anxious-americans.html?_r=0
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