Summary: In our busy lives, intentional times of rest are sacred and essential for spiritual and emotional health.
From African colonial history comes this interesting tale:
In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trip. Native porters had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning the tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat, as though in deep thought. When he inquired about this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters.”
All sense a need for deeper rest… a rest that eludes us…the shepherd has competition.
PSALM 23 ANTITHESIS
The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest./ It makes me lie down only when exhausted./ It leads me to deep depression./ It hounds my soul./ It leads me in circles of frenzy for activity’s sake./ Even though I run frantically from task to task,/ I will never get it all done,/ For my "ideal" is with me./ Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me./ They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule./ They anoint my head with migraines./ My in-basket overflows./ Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life,/ And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever./
-By Marcia K. Hornok, Submitted by Barb Stephens, Fort Collins, CO+
Perhaps that antithesis of Psalm 23 has a ring of truth… reminding us that we’re not really finding the kind of rest God that God has at hand.
Our cultural crisis of leisure - Two-fold : quantity and quality
· A fascinating phenomenon has taken place in the very recent decades. In the 1940’s…. psychologists and sociologists began writing articles about the future crisis of leisure time…= TOO MUCH….. because of technology. Something happened… the 40 hr work week didn’t turn into the 30… but 50.
· Often time-saving technologies don’t save time. Instead, they compress and consume time. "The high-tech world of clocks and schedules, computers and programs, was supposed to free us from a life of toil and deprivation," explains technology critic Jeremy Rifkin in Time Wars, "yet with each passing day the human race becomes more ... exploited and victimized."
· Leisure time has actually declined in America every year since.
The even greater loss may be…
One study concluded that the qualities that now define American leisure are “boredom, search for distraction, fear of spending time with oneself, sensuality, escape into comedy, violence, and horror = the fun of being frightened.” = nothing redemptive, enriching, or expansive for the soul.
Restless culture…. insomnia has become a major challenge.
> Most of us would agree, we’re a people who need to recapture…
God’s Redemptive Rest
1. The cycle of labor and rest is rooted in God.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
Not in recuperative sense… but in stopping to mark completion.
Often translated ‘ceased’…. As same root word for Sabbath.
The word sabbath comes from the Hebrew shabbat, meaning “to cease” or “desist.” The primary meaning is that of cessation from all work.
His cycle of work and rest is to become our own.
· When I relax I feel guilty > ‘feel Godly.”
2. God placed into the landscape of our lives, a provision of both practical needs and pleasure.
Genesis 2:9 (NIV)
And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
Look at the vast amounts of beauty that fill this world… and ask what kind of God surrounds us?
> A God who wants us to share his joy… enter his joy.
3. Sabbath rest is given to God’s people (Israel) as a fundamental boundary to set them apart.
First functionally established (Exodus 16)
Then formally established (Exodus 20:8)…. As the 4th commandment.
· 10 Commandments – the fundamental qualities to protect human life… to raise our humanity.
· Do you ever think of rest as one of the fundamental boundaries? When we think of holiness we rarely think of rest.
4. Redemptive rest finds it’s meaning in relationship to labor.
· Commanded to gather then to cease.
Ø We are co-creators… who then share in the rest.