Unfortunately the video and audio are out of sync on this video. If you’d still like to view it, you can follow this link. Alternatively, the audio is below.
If I were to ask you this morning what the top three core issues are keeping followers of Christ from living holy, thriving lives, which bring light to the world, what would you suggest? It’s sort of a Family Feud style question.
Now, I don’t have any research or street interviews to back me up, but I would suppose things like technology, culture, lack of reading Scripture or engaging in prayer would fill the list.
I see how all of these things keep us from growing closer to Jesus and becoming conformed into His image and likeness. However, there is one subject that may not even make our top ten or fifteen, but underlies a multitude of Christian vices from outbursts of anger, to gossip, to sexual infidelity.
Lack of rest. Lack of sleep. Overcommitment. Busyness. Exhaustion.
However you want to slice it, rest does not appear to be integral to the Christian life today.
The CDC confirms that 13.2 million Americans have fallen asleep while driving in the past thirty days. Apparently, we are willing to put our own lives at risk, before we are willing to change our resting habits.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes, to name a few.
There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a tool of interrogation and torture. Italian research scientist Michele Bellesi shared in an interview with New Scientist magazine that they have began observing astrocyte cells, responsible for dissolving dead brain issue, attacking good brain cells that looked dead because of chronic fatigue.
But, let’s just take the science out of it—we know from experience don’t we?
As kids, we would tease our oldest cousin Sarah because she was so grumpy when she woke up. “Somebody didn’t get her Kix in the morning!” we would say, trying to rile her up. You know what I’m talking about—We say “someone’s grumpy today!”, “someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed”, and maybe the underutilized, “someone’s got a case of the Mondays”
I mean really, it’s harder to focus, harder to read, harder to resist… when we’re tired. Full disclosure here… there was a period of time when the kids wouldn’t sleep a full night for days, and in the middle of the night Jess and I looked at each other with utter hopelessness and asked “Does God actually love us?”
I’m not joking! Our lack of sleep was affecting my faith!
Certainly, we aren’t the only ones, are we?
And, if rest is so important, does God have anything to say about it?
It’s usually at this time I would invite you to join me in the study of a passage of Scripture, but this morning is on the topic of rest and we are going to jump around to a few different places in Scripture as we discuss the subject of rest.
1. WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT REST
God believes in rest
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2 NIV
God commands rest
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 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…
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Exodus 20:8-11 NIV
The Prophets longed for rest
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:18 NIV
“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” Daniel 12:13
Jesus promises and promotes rest
“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. Matthew 11:28-29 NIV
… 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.” Mark 6:30-32 NIV
Heaven is a place of rest
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Rev 14:13 NIV
There are, of course, hundreds of passages we could look up in the Bible regarding rest, but suffice it to say, from beginning to end, God’s Word presents rest as integral to the fabric of humankind.
Now, we realize that in a sinful, fallen world, many things that ought to be, are not. However, in Christ, the curse has lost its power and, though the world around us, including our bodies, are not yet made new, our inner-selves have been raised from the dead. Therefore, our priorities and inclinations should come back to that place they were before Creation was broken. Or, from another viewpoint, our priorities and inclinations ought to come to that place they shall be when Creation is restored. Either way you look at it, the life of a Christian is one living in the wholeness God intends—balanced, productive, and at peace.
It is, in fact, the way we live our lives which is light to the unbelieving world.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles [in this world], to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12 NIV
[story of the wood cutter]
If this is so, then why are we fatigued?
If we are meant to live restored, with an eye toward life in Heaven, why are we caught up in what Thomas Kelly called, the “intolerable scramble of panting fervishness”?
2. WHY ARE WE FATIGUED?
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him… Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:1, 5 NIV
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 ESV
I believe that even though it is God’s desire for us to find rest, we choose lesser things. Instead of being counter-cultural, we join in the chorus of the world, declaring, “busy is good” Here’s my two-cents on why we so easily forego God’s clear desire for our rest—
- Doubt that we have worth
- Doubt others will believe we have worth
- Fear of dealing with relational issues
- Fear of self-reflection
- Fear of God’s voice
- Fear of disappointing others
- Fear of the undone
You can see that there are two primary reasons we do not fall in step with the God and the Created Order by regularly resting: Doubt and Fear.
We doubt our worth, we obsess over the view others may have of us, we fear stillness and silence because of all the difficult things inside and around ourselves. For some of us, we don’t rest because we cannot disappoint others. And still a few cannot rest because there will be things left undone.
Can you relate to some of these?
But, please, dear Church, what is the remedy to doubt and fear? Is it not, faith?
Faith in God’s promises?
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV
There are hundreds more promises that urge us to remember that we are beloved by God! When we do not enjoy the blessings of things like rest, do we not trample on the gift God has given us in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus?
If I sacrificed my retirement account to purchase for you a new home and you refused to ever live inside of it because you feel so unworthy, would that bring a blessing to my heart? No! I want to see pictures on Facebook of you just lying on the carpet smiling.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8 NIV
And for those who cannot rest because you fear what others will say, you must choose who is your master. God commands us to rest and it was so important that God, Himself, rested! He made our bodies in connection with the rotation of the Earth and a perfect combination of atmospheric gases which cause our brains to produce melatonin when receiving a sunset’s red-spectrum light.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34 NIV
Lastly, for those who cannot leave things left undone, it is a matter of faith. Tomorrow will worry about itself, and God will be with you. He who writes the commands, knows the future. Rest is a spiritual discipline that will grow your faith. Which leads me to the spiritual benefits of rest. Why do you think disobeying God’s command to rest today, will help you obey His commands tomorrow?
3. SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF REST
- We are forced to prioritize our lives
- We live integrated with God, ourselves, each other, and creation
- We live “forward” toward Heaven
- We grow our faith by tithing our time and effort
- We find our identity and worth in Christ’s effort
- In rest, we can hear ourselves
- In rest, we can hear God
4. HOW TO PRACTICE REST
- Take a Sabbath
- Ditch the phone at night
- Be aware of “being” over “doing”
- Don’t apologize for rest
- Take a nap
- Be silent or alone
- Fasting from service
- Pro Tip: Simplicity leads to easier rest
- Pro Tip: Confession leads to deeper rest
Band, please come up here at this time.
Church, throughout history, great spiritual writers have described Christian rest as one sitting on the hub of a great wheel, which turns the world, or falling asleep in the eye of a storm. Though there are infinite things to worry about, you have allowed the Good Shepherd to lead you to green pastures, beside still waters, where He shall restore your soul.
As we now take up our morning giving, please also consider how God is asking you to respond to His Word today. We’re singing the song Rest my Soul and I believe it could be the exact words you need to pray this morning as you step into rest.
Please stand with me.
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
Don’t forget to sign up for a small group. Go with God.