One of the most trying times when you are a parent of small children is nap time. Both of my boys fight sleep. If you lay them down, then they cry. If you try to rock them, they kick and wiggle around and won’t stay still. If you let them stay up, then they are cranky and fussy. They need sleep, but they don’t understand that. Their goal is to avoid the one thing they need the most. This can be frustrating as a parent, but you respond with patience and love until eventually they lay down their little head and close their eyes.
The truth is we all need rest, and sometimes adults are just as bad at avoiding it as small children. Rest is a theme throughout the Bible. The first things we learn about God is that he is the Creator and on the seventh day he rested. Later in the Bible, Sabbath will become an important concept for the people of God. This day of rest would set them apart from the other nations around them. The concept of Sabbath was bigger than just one day. There was a Sabbath year. Sabbath was extended to animals and the land. Sabbath is where we get the modern idea of a sabbatical. Jesus also finds time to rest. He withdraws to be alone and pray (Luke 5:16). If Jesus and God needed to set aside time to rest, then shouldn’t we also?
Why is there so much attention given to rest within the Bible? It seems like something that is ordinary. At first glance, it looks like an idea that is simple and does not need to be taught. The problem is that God knows we are like small children, and we need to be reminded to rest over and over again. If not, then we will skip it, and we will not get the rest for our soul that we desperately need. There are multiple kinds of rest. We need rest each night. We need a day or two of rest each week from our jobs. We need times throughout the year where we can get away and maybe spend time with family. We also need times where we can be alone and reflect on our lives and pray. Rest refreshes us. Rest reenergizes us. Rest allows us to gather our thoughts and recenter our lives on what is important. Rest is a time to reflect on God and his creation and praise the one who has blessed us beyond measure.
“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.'” (Mark 6:30-31)