“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:3
“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands let us be careful that none of you have fallen short of it.” Hebrews 4:1
“Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s day honorable, and if you honor it by not getting your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord..” Isaiah 58:13-14
Rest. Sabbath. Slowness. Easy enough to read, easy in nature to understand, but often easily forgotten. We see throughout scripture the call to rest, the call to observe the Sabbath, but we turn our heads to the command of keeping the day holy. I have found that people, like myself, don’t quite understand the command. What do I do for 24 hours? What if I don’t have time for a whole day? Is resting and relaxing the same thing? What exactly is the purpose?
“God walks slowly because He is love. Love has its speed. Its inner speed. It is a spiritual speed,” John Mark Comer, Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Slowness is the speed in which Jesus walks. It’s also the lifestyle in which He lived. If you look at any of the Gospels, people are constantly stopping Him to be healed, or He is staying extra days with guests, retreating to the mountainside, or up early in the morning with the Father. He is slow and at rest in all areas of life. Which is why He offers us rest in Matthew 11 by taking up His yoke which is light and not burdensome.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
So to me, relaxing and resting aren’t the same thing. Relaxing can be temporary while resting revives the spirit, soul and body. Relaxing can be mechanisms the world gives you to numb yourself of emotions, situations, circumstances or pain. Watching TV can be relaxing because for the 45 minutes of a show you can turn your brain off and not have to respond. Resting though, it creates intimacy, it rejuvenates your soul as it lies with the One it loves. Your spirit is awakened by the connection to its Creator. As we’ve been through the rollercoaster of COVID-19, I’ve discovered that now is the perfect time to uncover the call to rest and what it looks like. While we are in a slow summer, while the world figures out its policies and decisions, and while things are still for now.
Mariah Gascho, a Ten2 2020 participant, said, “I think for us today [the Sabbath] shouldn’t just be a day where we can relax and have a day off of work. Instead, I’d encourage Christ-followers to figure out a way to use the Sabbath to say ‘God, today I acknowledge you as the provider of my life. Help me not to see myself as self-sufficient but to fully trust in your provision.’” The Sabbath is a day where we step back and realize that we cannot provide for ourselves and in fact we shouldn’t trust in ourselves to provide! We’ve been blessed to be a blessing, so take the sabbath to bless others. By doing this, we take part in God’s plan to provide for others while fully trusting him to provide for us.
I thought about how creative it is that Ten2 this summer is Ten2 Breathe. It’s almost as though we all knew we needed to catch up with our own breath, to take an opportunity to slow down.
Another Ten2 participant, Parker Overby, says this about her Sabbath, “I have found that the point and purpose of the Sabbath day is to delight and rest in Him. So I’ll fill my day with things that make me delighted in Him, I’ll brew a cup of coffee, and I’ll read or go on a walk. I’ve heard people say that a category to connect with God is through your affection for Him. So I look at it that way too; what can I do that will allow me to admire God. I don’t think it's required, but I do think it's how He wants to give us rest, since God set the tone of six days of work and one day of rest. It will also take trial and error as well, some days I don't do it well and sometimes it's the best Sabbath day ever.”
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3
I have found that this is the purpose. Not only did the Lord rest Himself, bless it, and gift it to us now, but He satisfies us. We get the chance to join in a day of no distractions, full of worship for our Creator, indulging in interests He’s given us, and getting completely filled by His Spirit. We get to live out Psalm 23. I don’t know the “right” way to have a Sabbath. Does it have to be 24 hours? I don’t know. Do you have to fast as well? I don’t know. Do you have to seclude yourself? I’m not sure. What I do know is that we can choose the things in which He’ll lead in. Things that will bring our souls true rest. Things that will worship our Father. Things that will refresh our spirit and bring us life. Things that will slow us down. Things that will make us feel like we are lying down under His big shade tree as His sheep.
What a new perspective this could bring to a quarantine, or to a “cancelled” summer, or to an “interruption”. What if this is actually just a worldwide wake-up call that we’ve burned ourselves out on the mundane tasks of religion and haven’t given our souls any rest? What if it simply is a chance for our spirits to be back in intimacy with Redeemer? I don’t have the answer to that either, but what I do know is that the Architect doesn’t waste seasons, which means this painful, weird, and confusing season has a purpose as well. Could this possibly be it? To rest?
– Mackenzie Thompson, Ten2 2020 Participant & Storyteller