Devotional: Make time to rest
Blog written by Emily Gustafson, PR intern at The Salvation Amy Northern Division
Life is busy. We are constantly taking on more responsibilities and committing to more activities. But what if this isn’t what God wants for us? What if, instead, God desires us to rest?
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to me, all 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
However, we as humans are prone to filling our calendars with many different things because outside forces – be it your work, your friends, or our culture – reinforce the idea that it’s good to be busy. This looks different for everyone. For me, it’s going to work, attending meetings, grabbing coffee with someone to catch up, going to church, meeting with my small group, rehearsing for worship team, shopping for groceries … you get the idea. My list could go on and on, and the amount of things I try to fit into a week is ridiculous.
Even though these things can be good on their own, all of these things collectively only bring more stress, and sometimes we don’t realize the stress we place on ourselves until we feel like everything is spiraling out of control.
Last week, I was full of anxiety from many of the activities I listed above. I spread myself too thin and didn’t realize until it was too late. I was overwhelmed and knew that I desperately needed to rest, so I decided to go to a worship night with a few friends. I was hoping that being there would help me refocus my attention on God.
When we got there, the worship team played a few songs that were very energetic – which is great, but certainly not what I was hoping for. I couldn’t focus on what I was singing, I began to wonder if I should’ve just stayed home. I felt like my head was spinning. I sat down and talked to God about how exhausted I felt, both physically because I was lacking sleep, and emotionally because of going from one thing to the next without giving myself time to process anything that whole week. I prayed about how I knew that worship was purely to bring Him glory and praise, and it wasn’t about the way it makes me feel or what I can get from it. I asked Him if he could just give me a moment of rest somewhere in the chaos of that night’s worship.
Literally right after that song, one of the leaders said, “We’re going to try something we’ve never done here,” and my heart stopped for a second. He said, “I feel like God is putting it on my heart to create a space for rest. So we’re going to turn the lights off, you guys can sit wherever you are, and we’re just going to sit in a moment of silence.” I sank into my chair with tears in my eyes as the lights dimmed, and I couldn’t help but smile.
Worship isn’t about me or how I’m feeling at all. It’s all about glorifying God. But Jesus created that moment for me and anyone else in that room that was needing to simply sit in His presence. God is the only one who can cover us with his overwhelming peace. I read about this frequently in Philippians 4:6-7, but I truly experienced it in that moment:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I’ve been learning a lot lately about how God has designed us for rest. God commanded us to take time for Sabbath for a reason.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Jesus was saying that man was made first, and the Sabbath was made afterwards for our well being. The Sabbath reminds us that we are God’s children and that it is Him alone who sanctifies us when we rest in him and refocus our eyes on him.
God knows that He created us to need Him and to be refreshed by spending time in His presence. Sabbath doesn’t have to be saved for just one day of the week; He designed us to crave time with him every day, and we should savor those moments with Him and be so grateful that we get to be refreshed by a God who is all-powerful and cares about us.
So the next time you’re grabbing a latte on the way to a meeting that’s taking place before the game you’re going to with some friends … remember that being busy isn’t a bad thing, but we should remember that God created Sabbath for us, so making time to rest in Him is both necessary and so sweet.
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There is a story in the New Testament that I keep coming back to. It’s Luke 10:29-37, the story of the Good Samaritan. In the story, a lawyer wants to test Jesus about the greatest commandment (Luke 10:27). He asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
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