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How should the practice of rest look different for Christians?

Is rest something you find yourself craving? If so, you aren’t alone. The topic of rest comes up often when I meet with clients, regardless of the role or industry they are in. We all know we need rest because of the consequences we feel when we go too long without it. If we put on a machine mentality and push through our work without taking time to rest and rejuvenate, we will eventually see and feel the ill effects.

As our Creator, God knows we need rest as well. We can see that throughout Scripture. While God does not need rest in the same way our insufficient and imperfect minds and bodies do, he modeled rest after creating the world (Genesis 2:2-3). Following the same pattern, the Ten Commandments established resting on the Sabbath as a requirement of the Law.

Rest is, of course, not an exclusively Christian activity. Just like many other elements of God’s design, those outside of the Christian faith also recognize the need for rest. So, what should be different for us? Let’s look at a few key distinctions for the practice of rest as a Christian.

We place our sense of security in God. (Not in our careers.)

For many professionals, the absence of rest results from a presence of fear. We fear that things will not be okay if we pause for a bit. We have our identities and our worth so wrapped up in our professions that the thought of a pause feels completely out of the question. Furthermore, we've inflated the importance of our career success and deflated the importance of living a balanced life that is aligned with God's design and commands.

To be clear, I'm not saying work is unimportant. Of course I don't mean that. I'm inviting you to consider if work has become the thing of importance in your life, with God left completely out of the equation.

Think about it this way. Is your job what you look to for security? Do you go at it alone, hesitant to share your burdens with God? Do you place more trust in your own work ethic and your own abilities? The irony is that it's our Creator Himself who supplied us with those abilities and who is the source of all we have been entrusted with. He alone is the most worthy source of security.

We find our rest in Jesus. (Not just in our hammocks.)

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." While others in the world may try to keep a tight grip on life and its stressors, we know we can lay them at the feet of Jesus and find true rest and peace. Rest found in Jesus goes far beyond the wonderful rest I like to find in our backyard hammock on a perfect Spring evening. It centers around an enduring sense of peace that exists within our knowledge of the Gospel and the bigger picture beyond this life. As we pursue the physical rest our body needs, we find our spiritual rest in Jesus.

We labor for the Kingdom. (Not the things of this world.)

While much of the world may find they need to rest from the constant hustle of proving their worth to others, we know we have worth as image-bearers of Christ. While others may labor to impress the world, we labor for the glory of the kingdom of God. This profound change of perspective around why (and for whom) we labor also impacts why (and for whom) we rest.

We rest to improve our resilience.

Our lack of rest can make us more vulnerable to the attacks of the Enemy. I’m sure Satan has a much easier time attacking tired, frazzled, unfed Christians than those who are rested, centered, and spiritually healthy. Worse still, he can attack in such a way we hardly notice it. It becomes a slow fade into a dark and all-consuming hustle with poor stewardship and no real purpose, fulfillment, or kingdom impact. The Sabbath, and all forms of rest, were made to provide for our human and spiritual needs. We need to trust that God, our Creator, knew exactly what he was doing when he commanded us to rest.

How will you obediently make time for true rest this week? How will you reconnect with God and the peace he provides?


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