A Rest-less Sabbath: musings from my inner voice

What does it mean in Genesis 2:2 that on the seventh day, “God rested”? God … the all powerful, all present, benevolent and active God who doesn’t sleep or slumber but who watched over us … God rested?

restWhy? What’s the point of that?

I’m a Protestant. My identity—whether consciously or flying under the radar—has been historically formed. We were birthed in reaction against what was perceived as Catholic excess: superstition, idolatry, hypocrisy, and—yes—sloth. Surely this monastic, meditative, and mediaeval life of merriment—think Friar Tuck, who enjoyed the blessings of new wine a tad too much—has missed the point.

For all my emphasis on grace, you won’t find me resting on my laurels. (Whatever they are?!) My life embodies the Protestant Work Ethic: onward and upward. I move rapidly from challenge to challenge, victory to victory, a steward of my talents awaiting the “well done good and faithful servant” on the last day. On that day—I reason—I’ll enter the rest of the Lord. Right now, however, there’s no rest for the wicked. (Whoever they may be?!)

Yes, I’ve read the Scriptures. I’m aware that Hebrews speaks of entering the permanent Sabbath of the Lord (4:9). But let’s be rational. (Some would say, come let us ‘rationalise’ together.) Sabbath is no longer one day of the week. It’s a state of mind as I walk with the Lord. So, I like to make the most of my time and ‘rest’ permanently while I work! (It’s more efficient that way.) Granted, the Lord did give Elijah a necessary break after beating the prophets of Ba’al (1 Kings 19). Not my issue, though. Elijah couldn’t manage his time. While he burned out, in the Spirit’s unstoppable power I’ll power on, saving the Lost, building the Kingdom, bringing Heaven to Earth … whatever your preferred metaphor, I’m an active player in my Father’s business.

Still, there are some mysteries. Why Jesus withdrew to pray. Why He offered His easy yoke to those who were burned out on religion. Why He claimed to only do what He saw the Father doing. Why He chided Martha for slaving away while Mary rested at His feet. And, of course, why the Creator God rested.

But, no time to contemplate right now. There’s a battle to fight, a victory to win. I guess I’ll plumb the depths of this Sabbath doctrine after this life is done. In Heaven. Resting forever. Mmm, feeling agitated. …

Corrections from God’s Word …

Obviously what you just read is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a caricature, but I’m not projecting this onto others. It’s me. It’s my inner voice … the murmurings of a soul that refuses to be still. I should have learned this lesson by now—a spinal accident at 21 helps one realise he is not the centre of the world … life (even Christian ministry) continues on by God’s grace, with or without my contribution. Yet still I rush, and speed, and stress, and slave.

If my ‘worldview’ is best gauged not from my words but my actions, then something is definitely out of kilter. Work—even Christian vocational ministry (perhaps especially -)—can become an idol. We worship that to which we sacrifice the most … time, money, energy, relationships. I thought I was doing all this for God. Yet, ichabod. Sometimes I wonder if His Spirit has left the building and I’m stuck slaving away. When a holiday seems like a mixed blessing—think of all those things I won’t be able to achieve while resting—then it’s time to recalibrate.

That’s me. But how does rest sit with you?

Christ’s Pieces is a place to reflect. How, though, if we can’t be still?

Forget abstracted beliefs for a minute.

If your actions could speak, and your un-edited internal monologue was expressed, what would come out?

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