April 29, 2009
Take Time to REST!
by Charles R. Swindoll
The venerable preacher, Vance Havner, used to look over the top of his glasses and say to his congregation, "If you don't come apart, you will come apart." While not all stress is bad for us, too much of it over too long a period of time can be a killer. Literally. Most of us are wound pretty tight, which can result in everything from mild anger and irritation all the way to road rage and even a complete emotional breakdown. The old Greek motto wasn't far off: "You will break the bow if you keep it always bent."
It's interesting what our Creator did on the seventh day of creation. Do you remember? Just in case you forgot, read Genesis 2:2 for yourself: "By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done."
Now, why? Why did Almighty God need to rest? He didn't need to, He chose to. But why? Being God, He certainly wasn't tired (an absolute impossibility). He rested because He considered His work complete. He also rested to leave us an example to follow . . . to pattern our lives after. Many, many years later, He very deliberately included the importance of resting in His top ten priorities. These have come to be called the Ten Commandments. Obviously, they represent the ten things God cares about the most when it comes to wholesome human behavior. Number four on that list is found in Exodus 20:8-11, which reads:
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work. . . . For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy."
"Sabbath" is actually a Hebrew term, meaning "seventh." The seventh day of the week is Saturday. It was tradition that transferred Saturday to Sunday, but in God's original plan, He never had Sunday in mind, only the seventh---or last---day of the week. On that final day, REST!
My concern at this point is not which day you choose to rest and relax---only that you take time to do so. As Jesus taught, "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). Because of stacks and stacks of legalistic traditionalism, many people have gotten the plan all mixed up. They wind up arguing over which day is the actual Sabbath while they overlook the primary purpose God had in mind in the first place: taking sufficient time to rest and relax. Finding relief from the stress. Pushing away from our computers. Leaving the responsibilities of work. Giving our bodies time to refuel. Allowing our minds to be renewed. Letting our emotions be refreshed and restored.
Here are five searching questions only you can answer:
1. Do you deliberately and regularly take time each week to rest?
2. When you're taking time to relax, do you mentally release yourself from your responsibilities?
3. Are you strong enough to say no to things that would result in your falling into the trap of over-commitment?
4. Have you begun to cultivate hobbies that relieve your stress and free you to be creative?
5. After you have rested and gotten recharged, do you return to your responsibilities without any guilt for having taken the time off?
In all my years in the ministry, I've never known or heard of anyone near death, wishing they had spent more time at the office.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.