From “Bible Studies for Life” curriculum, LifeWay
Gen. 2:1-3; Col. 1:15-17
Jay Sanders, pastor
Towaliga Baptist Church, Jackson
My son likes to do trust falls. He’ll come and stand right in front of me and fall backwards, sometimes without any warning. Fatherhood requires extreme attention at all times.
But most of the time, his trust falls aren’t really trust falls. They’re more like conditional falls. Before taking the plunge, my son will tell me to get closer. He’ll turn around to make sure I’m still there. He’ll tell me to get closer again. And then he’ll sort of sit into me. Like I said, it’s not a trust fall. It’s a conditional sitting down.
Rest requires trust. Much like my son, we sometimes don’t have enough faith in our Father to pull away from our tasks and fall back into a time of rest. Sometimes strong faith in God looks like a sacrificial mission trip to a faraway land or the sacrifice of time and money that comes along with adopting a child. And sometimes strong faith looks like a nap.
When we rest, we are trusting that God is in control of what we are stepping away from (Col. 1:15-17) and we are modeling the example that he built into the created order for us (Gen. 2:1-3).
A lack of rest is one of those acceptable sins that those of us who are skilled at justifying ourselves can even make look like holiness. Suppose you teach a Sunday School class. And sing in the choir. And lead a community outreach. And help out with your daughter’s soccer team. On the surface, this looks like the Lord’s work. As most of us see it, busyness is godliness.
In reality, it’s a great way to burn out.
Along with a failure to truly trust God, there are other enemies of our rest. One of them is people-pleasing. When we are so in love with the approval of man that we just can’t say no to a request, we are demonstrating a heart idolatry that will not end well. Heart idolatries rarely do. People-pleasing is rooted in self-centeredness and seeks to steal glory that belongs to God. It never allows us to say no to a request, no matter how impractical it might be for us. And it never leaves us time to rest.
People rarely get praise for resting. “Jim, I’ve met with the board and we’ve decided that since you took a nap yesterday, we’re going to give you a raise.” That sentence has likely never been spoken before. But while rest rarely comes with praise, when used wisely it comes with great blessings. It can help us to grow in our faith and it can rejuvenate our bodies and our minds.
I was enjoying a time of rest several years ago when I got one of those bad news calls. It was implied that I needed to be there. I stayed. There were people in place who could easily do the job, probably better than I could. I knew that I had made the right decision but I also knew that someone would want to have a word with me when I got back into town. When someone wants to have a word with you, it’s never good.
Sure enough, someone wanted to have a word with me.
But it wasn’t what I expected.
The sweet lady thanked me for staying with my family. She thanked me for the example I had set by continuing to rest and saying no.
Sometimes proper rest will cost you some momentary gains.
It might even cost you man’s approval.
But in the end, it’s the right thing to do. Your body, your mind, your spirit, and sometimes even a sweet lady in your church will thank you.