“So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:10).
God commands that we take time to rest (Exodus 20:8). Why? We know that because of the cross, we are not bound by Old-Testament Sabbath directives anymore. But, it is still important that we consider the importance and benefits of obeying this command. Christmas time is here! Remember Christ our Savior was born during this season, and that’s cause for celebration! But, America loves to pick up her pace around Christmas which can create calendars clogged with commitments, parties, dinners, programs, and events… the joy and celebration can get lost in the receipts, lack of sleep, over-eating, grief, family drama, and tension. It is crucial that we are intentional about creating space for, and allowing ourselves to, rest.
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is a Christmas carol which dates back to the early 1800’s, but the words are still very applicable…and we need a reminder of the purpose and power of these lyrics. There is debate about the exact origin of this familiar carol, however it seems to be the consensus that the words were penned to bring joy and hope during times that were lacking these things. The authors of this hymn did not allow themselves to become caught up in expectations of their culture. They challenged the cultural norms with Godly weapons such as Peace and Joy. One author, Ace Collins, writes, “During this period, the songs of organized religion were usually written in Latin and their melodies were somber and dark, offering singers and listeners little inspiration or joy……So, while they continued to go to worship, they created their own church music outside the walls of the cathedrals and chapels. In this way, the peasant class led a quiet rebellion against the tone of religious music by writing religious folks songs that were light, lively and penned in common language.” Our brothers and sisters 500 years ago were seeking joy and light in darkness!
The cares of life dissipate in the presence of a joy-filled environment. Rest is one of the ways that we are able to help create an environment of joy. Rest, though, is a discipline that must be developed. Countless times, even Jesus- the Son of God- took time in his life to schedule “rest” and used it to prepare, repair, and relax in order to minister with excellence and Love. He needed to be “filled up” in order to “pour out.” Do not allow yourself to give into the possible temptation of isolation and sorrow this Christmas season.
Scripture is riddled with wisdom related to rest, here are some examples:
Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.”
Mark 6:31 “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Jesus).
Psalm 131:2 “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jesus).
Proverbs 19:23 ” The fear (reverence) of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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” (Jesus).
1. Read the verses above (and try researching other scriptures on the subject)
2. Read the questions below, contemplate upon how to answer them for your own life, write some of your responses as a form of dialogue with God.
3. Pray about how to build time into your life and schedule for more rest, especially during chaotic and hectic life seasons.
4. Thank God when you experience the benefits of resting, don’t forget that He makes it possible!
– What are some words/concepts that stick out, related to rest, from the verses above? (i.e. contentment, peace…)
– What does it look to like to praise Him in the storm? To worship when it’s chaotic?
– What could I be missing during this season because of my lack of rest?
– How do you choose joy when it doesn’t seem possible?
– How can others be effected by my choices to rest?
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” (Alan Cohen)