Ever noticed when you look at a sheet of music that not only are there notes but there are also rests? Can you imagine what an orchestra would sound like if all that the musicians had staring at them on their music stands were pages filled with nothing but notes and void of rests? The melodies that they would try to produce would be chaotic noise for the audience, and it would be exhausting for the musicians. Especially the horn section! The pauses in the music are just as important to the overall piece as the sound from the instruments. It is a wonderful rhythm of sound and silence working together to soothe, excite, or entertain the listener. I would say the same is true with our Christian lives. We are called to go and take the land, and then we are called to rest.
The Bible tells us that God Himself rested after He created the world.
Genesis 2:2-3 — 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.
In the ten commandments He tells us to remember the Sabbath.
Exodus 20:8-11 — Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work …
Even the land was to be rested every seventh year. Check out Leviticus 25:4.
In the New Testament Jesus promises us that if we come unto Him He will give us rest. Matthew 11:28-30.
And yet our American society pushes us and pushes us to do more and even finds us taking pride and our identities from how busy we are. One of the first questions we ask someone that we are meeting for the first time is “so what do you DO?” Or how about when we ask each other “How have you been?” How many times is the response: “Busy!!” What would happen to our society if we could truly answer each other with “I’ve been great. I’m saying no to things that I’m supposed to and enjoying the things and people that God has called me to. I took a nap yesterday, and I’m enjoying a great book.” Would our listeners respond, “It must be nice! I’m running the world and can’t stop.”
A couple of years ago while on vacation, we met a family from England. They were commenting on how they were trying to stay out of the way of all the Americans that were in such a hurry to get to their next destination on their vacation. Many countries are taking siestas daily. I know the Europeans who came to America all those years ago had to be “go-getters” in order to sail across the ocean and start their colonies here. But even through our American generations, things seem to keep pushing true rest out the door. In my almost five decades in America, I’ve watched Sundays go from all the stores being closed to everything being open (unless you’re a Christian chicken sandwich company) to kids’ sporting events and parties on Sundays.
I just wanted to encourage us today to take a deep breath and enjoy the gift of rest that He wants to give us.