Why You Should Stop Resting From Your Work
Welcome to Saturday. You made it, barely. Taco Tuesday was a highlight. Hump day Wednesday almost did you in. Thursday is the new Friday eve, and then TGIF. But you made it to glorious Saturday. Our kids always ask, "Why can't we switch it all up and work for two days and the weekends are five?" If you live here in the great USA most likely today is a day off. It's a deep exhale from the week you just had. There are two crowds of people when it comes to taking in their day off. Group one might sleep in a bit more, lounge around, read a book, and go for a walk with the dogs. Some of you, if you're like me, will shift into turbo mode and get your personal list all checked off. Sounds glorious.
Whatever your speed, Sunday night is coming again. Sunday night is the reminder Monday morning is coming. Again. You know Monday morning. Back to the grind. Back to busy. Back to hustle. Then we find ourselves daydreaming again, longing for Saturday. And so the cycles continues.
What if I said you weren't designed to live like this? You've been resting from your work for far too long.
In the creation account from Genesis 1, there is more mystery and revelation packed into this chapter than any other in the Bible. I could, and will, spend the rest of my life unpacking this chapter. This chapter begins a series of triggers clueing us in to recognize patterns and repetition throughout the rest of the Biblical narrative.
One narrative calling us to pay more attention is the number seven. The beginning of Genesis (specifically Genesis 1:1-2:3) makes it so blaringly obvious you must pay attention. The first sentence in the Hebrew contains seven words. I know, not real impressive, yet. The name of God shows up 7x5 times, or 35 times. Go read it and count. The word "land" comes 7x3 times, "sky" is 7x3 times, "light/day" is 7 times just in day one of creation, and "living creature" is 7 times in days five and six. Again, only scratching the surface.
The phrase "it was good" shows up seven times. An interesting part is this doesn't come once for each of the days. Day three says, "it was good" twice. Even today, Tuesday is considered a day of double blessing in Israel. This is the day young boys and girls have their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and the day people get married. Far more important than this third day, is the seventh day. The seventh day is the only day God blesses and makes holy.
"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
Here is where a paradigm shift in our thinking needs to take place. This seventh day was created for rest. God rested, and the invitation for us is to rest. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says, "The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals, the Jewish equivalent of sacred architecture." He goes on to explain the Sabbath is to be a cathedral, in time.
Humanity enters the creation story on day six. What is the first thing man and woman do after they are created? The enter into rest. Their first full day of life was spent on the seventh day, the Sabbath, with God. They don't show up on the scene and have God tell them to grab a shovel and get to work. They don't have to work hard to earn their day of rest. They just rest. Not a bad way to enter the story.
Have you ever noticed and been bothered by how each day of creation ends? "And there was evening and there was morning on the first day." This phrase is repeated after each day of creation, almost. For six days in a row, this rhythm shows up. The one day the phrase does not show up is the seventh day. There is a foreshadowing to a day of enjoying a new creation forever with God, a getting back to Eden. It is because of this ordered phrase, "evening and morning," Jewish people start their days in the evening. All of the holidays begin in the evening. Shabbat (or Sabbath) begins on Friday night. What an interesting concept to have a day begin at night! And what is it we do when our days begin at night? We rest.
This doesn't jive with our cultural expectation to rest only when you have worked hard. Rest must be earned, not given. I can only have my Saturday if my Monday through Friday killed me. No doubt the tape running through my head on most days is I can stop when I have finished. I can rest when I have earned it. I can be at peace when I am done. So we grind out our weeks and we forget Jesus' reminder, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
Dare we even consider this to be true for ourselves? Is this what the God of creation is inviting us into? It feels like cheating the system. Our culture has conditioned us to feel like if we aren't working, we aren't moving forward and others who "hustle" are getting ahead, and we are falling behind.
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give you—a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery." - Deuteronomy 6:10-12
God is reminding the Israelites at this juncture (and many, many others) they are no longer slaves. What is the life of a slave? What day do slaves get off? They don't. It is 24/7/365. Slaves, to have value, must be strong and must be able to do work. This was the life God was calling them out of. You are no longer slaves. You are free. You can have rest and you don't need to earn it. What kind of God is this?
The Israelites entering into the Promised Land is a parallel to the creation account. Adam and Eve entered the Promised Land of Eden enjoying a paradise they had nothing to do with.
"Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.'” - Genesis 1:29-30
See, this idea of entering into rest though we did nothing to deserve it is part of God's good grace and great love toward us. To the degree I feel I need to earn my rest, I also feel I need to earn my salvation. I need to work hard for God (and people) to love me. I need to do great things for God so He will forgive me. If I work hard enough, I can rest. If I am good enough, I can be accepted. If I work hard enough I have value. This is the mentality of slavery in Egypt. This isn't kingdom theology.
So why should we stop resting from our work? You were designed to work from your rest. Read it again. You were designed to work from your rest. Not rest from your work. Our real problem is we are not resting well. Take it from this serial worker. I may have experienced days off, but I truly didn't rest. What would it look like for you to spend today, and tomorrow, really resting? Being renewed by God? How would Monday morning look different for you? Try it. You have 48 hours and the rest of your life to lean in and learn the sacred rhythm of rest God is inviting you into. Stop trying to earn it and just receive it as the gift it was intended to be.