Let’s face it, life is stressful. An article in the New York Times describes the situation: “Stressed, Tired, Rushed—A Portrait of the Modern Family.” It pointed out,
“Children are much more likely than not to grow up in a household in which their parents work, and in nearly half of all two-parent families today, both parents work full time, a sharp increase from previous decades. What hasn't changed: the difficulty of balancing it all. Working parents say they feel stressed, tired, rushed and short on quality time with their children, friends, partners or hobbies, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.”
How do we escape the stress? One way we attempt to do it is through vacations. We meticulously design them, being careful to include all the details so we’re sure to take advantage of all the recreation and relaxation we should glean from our restful times away. We just want a time to chill. Too often, these attempts at respite become more effort than our “real lives.” There are even vacations from which we feel we need a vacation and can’t wait to get home! Vacations can be exhausting and it would be nice to get some real rest! Is there such a thing as “real rest?”
As you may know, “sabbath” means rest (to cease or desist). God used the first six days to create everything and “He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2). So, the seventh day is called sabbath. God must know what real rest is. He created it along with His whole creation. As with much of what God has made, mankind has made counterfeits of the real thing. The fakes are never satisfying. So, our attempts to create rest become frustrating times of exhaustion, leaving us to gladly opt for a “stay-cation” rather than dealing with the hassles of fashioning our own manmade attempts at rest.
Jesus chided the religious leaders of His time for turning the day of rest into anything but. They made it into a day of extreme anxiety and fear, a burden for those who sought diligently not to break the sabbath. Instead of “no work” being a positively anticipated segment of the week, it became a time where every detail of one’s life was controlled. They had to be so careful not to commit anything that could be construed as work on the sabbath, they no doubt welcomed sundown, ending the burdensome holy day!
But, God still has a positive rest for mankind. Jesus offers redemption and along with that, provides His rest. He has much to say about the concept of rest and those who enter into it. The New Testament gives us a picture of the kind of rest God intended for us to enjoy. In Christ, we’ve got quite a vacation coming! But it starts now.
First, there is the rest from the burden of the Law. It’s human nature to believe that we can impress God with what we do. News flash: we can’t! The Apostle Paul—probably the foremost expert on impressing God with his personal behavior—came to know this truth: “…by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Check real quick, are you made of flesh? I guess that includes you! You and I need to relax and realize that we can’t impress God. The vacation from the Law starts there. The ticket is knowing Christ. So, there is a current rest.
There is also a future rest. This rest is pictured throughout the Bible. It is the culmination of all we believe. The Israelites entering into the Promised Land is a “type” or foreshadowing of our entering into that rest. In Hebrews 4, the writer clearly bounces back-and-forth, comparing the Israelites entering, or not entering, the Promised Land and our entering His “rest.” And he assures us, “For we who have believed enter that rest” (vs. 3). This rest is indescribably good. The best descriptor we can attach is heaven.
Do you need a vacation? The good news is that Jesus offers you one here and now. The really good news is He’s got it planned. Take advantage of it. Stress is real and the more we humans try to relieve it, the worse it gets. Real stress relief, real rest, can only be found in Christ, now and for eternity. Open His Word. Read about it. Receive it today.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”