The virtue we are wrestling with this coming Sunday is restfulness. Though I believe Jesus can commiserate with our stress, (he did after all, sweat blood in Luke 22:44), he promised his yoke was easy. We also don’t see the Creator God stressed from all the creating. However, we do see in scripture that our God modeled rhythms of rest. And the word for Sabbath actually means “to cease” or “to stop”.
There is much to say about Sabbath and rest in this day and age, so I want to leave a few thoughts here to get you thinking and praying in preparation for worship this Sunday. The following are ideas collected from Mark Buchanan’s book called, The Rest of God, p. 62.
The Jewish Sabbath begins in the evening. In other words, it begins with sleep.
Sleep is a relinquishment: it is an abandonment of self-control. We direct nothing in our sleep. We master nothing. We sleep well only under one of two conditions: utter exhaustion or complete confidence, where we stop trying to help ourselves.
How did you sleep last night? Believe me, I cannot preach this message from the proverbial “choir loft” – as though I am an expert on sleep and ceasing. In fact, I am the opposite. I have mastered the art of clenching while sleeping. I have taught my body to toil while I sleep.
What helps? Faith. That is what helps. I literally remind myself that God is in control while I’m sleeping and that God loves me and wants what is best for the church, for my family and for me. Not only that, but God is able to bring about positive outcomes to an infinite degree. It is really that simple.
Last night, this message got away from me. I deepened the crevice in my mouth guard as I tried to chew solutions into salience and worries into the waste bin.
It is possible for me to legalistically keep the Sabbath by doing no work at all for a full 24 hours, but grind my teeth every evening while I am sleeping, which I personally confess to be an act of faithlessness. Perhaps I’m not the only one who takes comfort in the following?
“[The Lord] will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep… he will watch over your life” (excerpts from Psalm 121).
Lord, in Your mercy, build our faith in You. Forgive us for our faithless striving and clenching. Build in us such trust in You that we know You are watching while we sleep. And that while we sleep, we actually cease our striving. In Your name, Amen.
Praying with you for deeper and more complete moments of rest.
With love and care,