We are in part 5 of our 5-part series on Family-Together Habits. These are behaviors families can practice to strive for greater intimacy with Jesus.
The five key habits are: Gospel-centered worship, Gospel-centered service, Gospel-centered community, Gospel-centered gratitude, and Gospel-centered rest.
Today, we are focusing on REST.
I think we can all agree that the Nine Commandments are not only God’s rules, but they are just a good idea. Even if you aren’t a follower of Jesus, it is logical and agreeable to say that these commandments are good for society as a whole: don’t worship other gods, don’t make false idols, don’t use God’s name improperly, honor your parents, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t get jealous. Those Nine Commandments are great.
Oh wait…aren’t there actually Ten Commandments? But which one is missing… Ah yes: Don’t do any work, and don’t ask anyone in your home or your business do any work, one day per week. No work. Just rest.
It’s a forgotten and inconvenient commandment. It is something society as a whole rejects, but that, of course, is only true because so many individuals – so many of us – reject it as well. I mean, we generally think it’s a good idea. We just don’t want to actually do it, so we don’t.
But let me ask you something: What’s the complaint you hear most from your friends, peers, and even your own words, about the pace of your life right now? Do you hear people complaining they have too little to do? Almost never. We are a culture that is overworked, over-stressed, over-scheduled, and over-committed. What we need – what would make a real difference that would turn so many of our problems on their head as a culture – is real, actual, regular rest.
Wouldn’t your life be better if you had more rest?
Of course, we’re not just talking about ordinary rest. That’s why the whole “gospel-centered” precursor to each of these Family Together Habits is not just a nice, throw-away statement. It means something. Our rest must be of God and in God.
The prophet Jeremiah writes this:
“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
Cisterns were (and are) water tanks, usually underground, that were a key source of cool, usable, drinkable water in arid climates. They were a source of life and a keystone of existence itself in the time Jeremiah was writing. This is before interior plumbing, state-owned water purification systems, or Evian existed. These cisterns were essential to life – not just a polite suggestion.
While Jeremiah was not talking about rest specifically here, he was talking about obedience to God’s word and obedience to his commands and plans for His people. What he is pointing out is that people try to get life from places that were never designed for life-giving. More Netflix isn’t going to give you more life. Neither is food. Or exercise. Or shopping. Or…work. At least, not the kind of life Living Waters will give you.
Not resting – constantly moving, working, achieving – is the most prolific example of Broken Cistern thinking in our world today. And no one is getting life from it. What is it, exactly, that you are trying to prove?
The Sabbath Rest
One reason that the Sabbath is often ignored is that theologians and experts can’t agree on what it really means to Sabbath. Must it be a certain day, or is it more important to simply have a day to rest each week? What constitutes real rest – a nap, or prayer, or something else? If it’s about not working, what constitutes working? (Some ancient Jewish rabbis insisted that spitting on the ground was a violation of Sabbath because it could be considered farming.) Is the heart of the matter really about not creating anything?
And let me be clear, because we are now under the New Covenant, many would argue that we are not bound by the laws of Sabbath anymore. While technically, that’s probably right, it’s the wrong approach. God’s laws – and the 10 Commandments specifically – were not presented to humanity as a cosmic game of “gotcha!” They are given as a gift to help us avoid some of the worst aspects of life when it is lived in sin. And rest? Rest is commanded in order to avoid a life lived while ignoring God, his goodness, and the beauty of what resting in Him can do.
I don’t know the answers to all these questions, and I can’t settle all these theological arguments, but I do know this: your family needs rest. And the rest you need is not about vacations on sandy beaches or longer naps (though those things are fine in and of themselves). What your family needs is to be in the presence of God himself, resting in the truth of who He is and How he loves you, and that your identity is in Him, as one of his children.
I would also say with a good deal of confidence that you’re probably working too much. Or, more specifically, that you are not resting enough or well enough. You need to take breaks from work. You need to rest, and rest in the identity that you have been given through Christ who loves you.
Of course, the advice to “just rest” – that’s a drastic over-simplification in many ways. And one reason I say that is because it actually takes work to rest. What I mean is, you have to plan ahead, think ahead, and decide to do it. You can’t just not do things – you have to plan for the margin, make it the priority, and stick to it. For example, you might need to make sure that you make a double-batch of food the night before so that on your Sabbath rest day, you can have one less thing to occupy your time. This isn’t about legalism – it’s not wrong to cook on the Sabbath – it’s just a smart idea to have a plan.
Are you getting the rest you need as a family and with your family? Does your rest help you understand God better? Does it help you re-establish your focus on Him? Does your rest make you more holy?
What is one thing you can do to help establish a rhythm of rest in your family? What plans can you make to protect time set-aside for rest? What is one thing you can remove to make this possible?
If a whole day seems beyond your reach at this point, can you fight for an afternoon? No chores, no work, no obligations, just rest.
In a world that keeps getting faster, this could be one of the greatest gifts you ever give your children: the gift of knowing how to rest.
Until the next Feast,
A few things for you to know about:
Trunk or Treat: Thanks for Being Our Neighbor!
We are reaching out to the neighborhood to invite them for Trunk or Treat as a way to say “thanks for being our neighbor!” We need help in the following ways: “Trunkers” – decorate your car and hand out candy. “Hosts” – facilitate a game or activity area. “Hospitality” – welcoming. “Clean Up.” If you are interested and available, please contact John ([email protected]).
Encounter – New Connection group on Sunday mornings!
Sunday mornings at 9:00, a new group is gathering for connection and discussion in room 225. If you are looking for a place to connect with peers, we’d love to have you join!