Stephen MurrayComment

The Rhythm of Rest

Stephen MurrayComment
The Rhythm of Rest
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 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 or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
— Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Rihanna is right about one thing

I don't think I've met a person who could recite any other lyric from this song. When your friends are left without the instrumental track, they are hopelessly left confused as to how many times they should say, "work". They just guess and go for it. When my wife sings it (this happens often), this lyric is on repeat in my head throughout my day.

What point am I trying to make with this song?

To clarify, I don't think this is Rihanna's way of asserting her belief in the Sabbath day by only saying work six times. BUT... if she had said it seven times the rhythm of the entire song would have been thrown off completely. This song wouldn't be the same without it's rhythm. And in the same way, we aren't the same when we live and work without God's rhythm of rest.


Three Reasons We Reject God's Rhythm of Rest

1. We think we're fine.

We treat our bodies like we drive our cars. We rarely open the hood even if we hear something weird. We wait till the last minute when the light turns on to let us know to fill up our tank. We convince ourselves that regular maintenance is an inconvenience and a waste of our precious time. And then - when we least expect it - we break down. And even then, our main concern is the obligations we're failing to make.

2. We were told to.

There is nothing new under the sun, but there is always more work to be done. Our minds are bent toward a sense of achievement and a sense of comparison. Achievement acts as the finish line of our hard work, while comparison acts to turn that finish line into another starting line. Comparison is one of our mind's greatest motivators until it robs us of rest and starts to make us miserable.

3. We think laziness and rest are the same thing.

Our culture leans toward this rhythm of either being busy or being lazy. If I spend an hour scrolling through Facebook I don't tend to feel an overwhelming sense of rest. When I choose to be lazy, I don't think about my need for rest until I have to start working again.


Three Reasons You Need God's Rhythm of Rest

1. We were made for rest.

We come into the world with a natural need for rest. You probably don't think too often about it, but you will be asleep for roughly 33% of your life. God could have made us differently, but He chose to make us need rest in order to function. Our culture fights against rest rather than for it. We give up rest in order to cram for tests, while knowing that studies show that our ability to retain information is hindered by our lack of sleep. Rest not only helps us to retain information, but it helps us gain perspective on where we're going and what we're giving ourselves to.

2. Rest sets us apart.

God has called us to work, work, work, work, work, work. He has also called us to REST. Chick-fil-a is eating our lunch when it comes to rest. They've made it their practice to completely shut down on Sundays every week. If you're reading this, you are probably hyper aware of that fact. You're probably not aware that on certain occasions they actually do open on Sundays. Chick-fil-a has allowed their employees to provide relief to their communities on Sundays if necessary (read about those here and here). This truly sets them apart from most fast food chains you see these days.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
— Exodus 20:8

The word holy is "qodesh" which means set apart; other than. When we say and sing that God is holy (sometimes we add two more holy's for emphasis) what we mean to say is that He is undeniably greater than and different than us. He is set apart from everything else that is. The rest that God calls us to is a defining part of who we are. Our ceasing from work and the daily grind signifies our dependence and trust in Him to provide for us.

3. Rest is a command.

When God asks His people to do something He has perfect intentions. He is not in it to command us to do things that aren't beneficial to us. Sometimes we read His commandments and all we hear is, "Hey, this is important to Me." But I believe God wants us to hear, "You are important to Me, and this is crucial for you."


Three ways Jesus shows us how to receive God's Rhythm of rest

Jesus declared Himself the Lord of the Sabbath in Matthew 12:8 . He might be a good place to start as we learn to enter God's rest.

1. God's Word

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
— Luke 4:16

This passage says that Jesus made it His practice to teach people from the scripture on the Sabbath, the day of rest. Jesus wants to be with us and to teach us during our day of rest. Invite Him into your day of rest as if He was your honored guest. When we make room in our schedules for rest, we are more able to realize that God loves being with us and teaching us.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,
— John 6:68

2. make time to Say no to work and yes to worship

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
— Mark 1:35-37

When I get emails I feel important. I feel like my response is needed. Sometimes I find myself responding to emails I know were sent to thousands of people as if they were only addressed to me. In Mark 1:37 the disciples found Jesus who had gone off to be with the Father (think about that for a second... Jesus valued getting away to give His undivided attention to the Father). When His disciples found Him they reminded Him how important He was, "Everyone is looking for you!" Jesus knew their every need of Him, but He still chose to spend time with God. Jesus wasn't interested in living an example of what it looks like to be important. He was more interested in showing people what it looks like to be grounded and given to relationship with God than grounded and given to filling up our schedules with what everyone requires of us. He loved people, He healed people, He discipled people, but more importantly He sought after God. He prioritized His life around seeking the Father out and delighting in Him. And because of this, Jesus life was marked by doing only what the Father was doing rather than doing what everyone thought He should be doing (John 5:19). He embodied what He honored in Mary when she worshipped Him while Martha stood in criticism of her lack of work. 

Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
— Luke 10:41-42

Jesus let's us know that our time with God is the only thing that will never be taken from us, while the work we give ourselves to - and wish to see the end of - will in fact end and be taken from us.


3. Stop doing what you're doing and answer God's call to come away

Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.
— Mark 6:31
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30

The One who consistently went away to rest and be with God is calling out to you to "Come away" with Him. To leave what you're doing and what you're carrying to receive His rest. Go to Him.