New Year’s resolutions. Made every year with the sincerest of intentions. If you’re like me, you tend to go “all in”, thinking this is going to be THE year that I will: (insert your own thought here). And then before we know it, something comes along to derail our progress and we just admit that we can’t do it and we give up.
Even if you don’t make formal resolutions, most of us tend to spend some time re-evaluating how we fared through the past year and where we might improve in the new one. Maybe I need to eat healthier, exercise more, worry less, spend less time on social media? Or, could I need to slow down the pace of the busyness in my life? While God can certainly help us with any changes we may need to make, if we look to Him for help and guidance, He has a very specific design for the busyness – STOP!
We all know the creation story; God created the world and everything in it in six days and on the seventh day He rested. Let’s think about that for a minute. Was God so tired from six days of creating the world that He needed a rest? No. He was setting an example for us. In Genesis 2:3 it says: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy…” Just as He created the world in the first 6 days, He created the Sabbath because rest is important. Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word for ‘stop, cease, pause’. We need to take a break from the hustle and bustle. But God wasn’t done there. In Exodus 16, God commanded the Israelites to rest on the Sabbath. They were to collect manna for 6 days, but they were not to collect on the seventh day. Why the command? Because the Israelites didn’t know how to rest. They had been in bondage in Egypt, forced to labor without much rest. But God wanted them to rest; to remember from where He had brought them so they would not become enslaved to anything again.
This command is again made clear in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you….Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm….” By being obedient to the law in their actions, the Israelites’ hearts and minds would develop a different mindset toward work and their relationship with God. They would be an example for generations to come: a people with a heart for and reverence to their God. A people who know how to rest in Him.
Apply: So how do we create this Sabbath rest with the demands of jobs, families and other responsibilities? By making a conscious decision to stop and set aside time for rest and fellowship with God. Easier said than done? I hear you. But God is honored when we honor Him. So, let’s resolve to view Sabbath (the time to stop, cease & pause) as a delight; a time God has created for us to delight in Him.