By Anthony Casperson
There was this one episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon is made to take a vacation. He’d not taken one in years and was being forced to use up some of that vacation time. The funny thing was that he didn’t want to take the vacation. The idea of being idle drove him crazy. Sheldon ended up trying to “help” his friends and driving them crazy.
Now, while this is funny in the form of a sitcom, it’s less funny in real life. Quite often, people feel that they have to keep working, keep doing. If you work hard, you can achieve much. This feeling to keep moving can be for many reasons, but usually this ends up with very tired people who are less effective and thus need to use even more energy to get done the same amount of work.
Sure, they might take a “vacation,” but it is usually filled with other obligations that had been laid to the side in their effort to keep busy. They fix up or clean the house. They go somewhere and fill up their itinerary with various excursions. Some even continue to do their job in a less official capacity. The idea of rest is far from us.
Rest is exactly what we need. I don’t mean sleep, or less work. I mean rest.
And this is what I had been reminded of a couple of week ago. You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a couple of weeks. First, I wish to apologize for not notifying that I was going to take two weeks off. But secondly, I want to tell you what I was being reminded of during these two weeks.
I had been planning on writing a blog post and uploading it on Christmas Eve Day. I had the idea, the direction, and I knew how I was going to write it. But while I was delving even more deeply into the research, I found out that the direction I was going to take my point was not as valid as I had thought it was.
I had to scrap the whole idea. And it was that Thursday afternoon by the time I realized this. So I had about a day and a half to come up with a new topic. I did what most people would do in that situation. I freaked out.
And in that moment of “What am I going to do now?” a thought came into my mind. It said, “You know, you are allowed to take a week or two off. No one will blame you for not posting a blog on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.”
I immediately began to discount the voice. “But consistency is one of the key things to keep something like this website building and growing. If I don’t post something, that could be detrimental to what I’m doing here.” My thoughts betraying the fact that I believed that the success of this calling from God was dependant on my abilities.
But my mind flooded with reminders that rest is important. Recently, in my small group, we’ve been talking about rest. And especially how little we tend to truly have a day of rest every week.
Also, a group of YouTubers whom I often watch put up a video, around the same time that I has in my panicked state, saying that for the month of January, they’d be taking a much needed rest. They wouldn’t be posting a video everyday like they had. And I’d thought when I saw that video that I could respect that decision because people need rest.
And the question came into my mind, why am I willing to give mental assent to the fact that we need rest, and even allow others to take a rest without feeling upset, but not let myself take one?
It shows a lack of faith in God. An implicit belief that God won’t continue to move in what he has called me to do if I take a small break. It’s a denial of God as Lord of the Sabbath.
God put into place the idea of rest. Not only the Sabbath day every week, but also the Sabbath year. Every seven years, the Israelites were commanded to let their fields have a rest from sowing and reaping for a whole year. Their animals were to be given a year of rest. They were to trust in the provision of God for that year.
It was commanded that they do this in Leviticus 25:1-7. They were told to trust in God for these Sabbath years. But they didn’t. Second Chronicles 36:20-21 tell us that the 70 years of exile that the Israelites suffered during the Babylonian exile was to make up for the Sabbath years that they had forgotten. That’s almost 500 years of not trusting God in this rest!
God had worked miracles in their midst, freed their forefathers from slavery, but they couldn’t trust him in being fed for a year. He’d fed their ancestors with manna and quail for 40 years while wandering in the desert, but he “obviously” couldn’t provide for them during a single year.
And though it’s easy to laugh at that situation, we forget that we do the same thing too.
It’s difficult to remember that God will provide when we think that our blessings come through our hard work. I’m not saying that we should be lazy. We should work hard when we are supposed to work, but we should also rest hard when we’re supposed to rest. After all, we’re resting in the strongest hands in the universe. The hands of the one telling us to find our rest in him.
Have you rested recently? Or have you busied yourself to the point of exhaustion? Learn from the Israelites. Rest is required, but if we don’t get it, it might just end up being forced upon us. So, stop thinking that everything will fall apart if you stop doing things and start trusting that God will provide in your rest.
Rest just as hard as you work.