All of us, even God, have need of rest and refreshment after mental and physical labors. It is, in point of fact, part of the natural rhythm of our daily and weekly life. Rest and refreshment were built into the natural rhythms of life by our Maker, who rested on the seventh day of creation (Gen. 2:1-3).
In scripture there are two purposes for rest. The first has to do with the concept of divine rest. It is necessary to sit back and take delight in celebrating what has been accomplished. In order to do this, there must be an amount of time set aside from work / labor which is reserved only for rest. In Exodus 31:17 we read God not only rested on the seventh day but he abstained from all work.
The second purpose for rest is under the heading of refreshment. The term refreshment means to “replenish lost stores of energy or strength or to be made new again.” This applies to our spirits as well as our bodies. In the Old Testament we can read of God’s provision for man’s rest, which was called the Sabbath. One day in seven was set aside for freedom from labor (Ex. 23:12; Deut. 5:12-15. It was a time of rest within the household and not even the servants nor animals were to exert themselves in labor. This time was meant for the people to turn their hearts and minds to God (EX. 23:25-26).
This weekly rest can satisfy both our physical, mental and spiritual needs for refreshment through the act of worship. This is when God can enable us to realize His quiet call for the gathering of believers. In other words, we need to re-center our hearts and minds upon God by going to church.
Being physically present with other believers is what Jesus wants us to do. Remember in Matthew 18:20 when Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” My Grandpa would have been disappointed to hear this. Sunday morning he always told Grandma, “you go ahead and go to church and I’ll put church on the TV and worship at home. Grandma would come home usually to find Grandpa asleep in his easy chair with the TV tuned into a western show. OOPS…how human we can be.
Resting from our labor helps us to reorient or reset our compasses by placing ourselves in God’s hands. By doing this we can re-focus on the Lord and spiritual realities. This is one of the spiritual needs not addressed by Maslow. To reorient is essential because it reconnects us with our Heavenly Father, our Creator. If Christ is our vine, then as branches we cannot disconnect from God for long or we will wither and die. Without reorientation in Christ we lose our spiritual identities, we become re-burdened with unnecessary guilt, we become thirsty for purity and righteousness. And sadly, yes, this sometimes causes us to chase as shallow, fruitless activates. But when we rest in the Lord, we can depend on His wisdom; we can be reassured by His Living Word and renewed through the strength of His Spirit.
Willingness to rest in the Lord can be viewed as commitment to God. Ironically, in this commitment, God grants us unexpected freedom. When God commanded us to observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, it was because he wants us to remember that He brings freedom, like He brought freedom to the Israelites who were in bitter Egyptian bondage.
Moses painted a picture of “the beloved of the Lord” as someone who was sheltered in safety, who was rested between God’s might shoulders, much like a small child riding piggy-back on Daddy’s shoulders. The Lord of our needs gives us freedom from the burdens of worry, slavery to sin, and fear of the grave. The Lord of our needs gives us freedom when like a child we surrender our human struggle and rest, trusting in God (Deut. 5:15; 33:12).
To rest in the Grace of God is called trust and is symbolic of our salvation. Isaiah quotes God as reprimanding his people for trusting in their own “Maslov’s” pyramid of need instead of accepting God’s invitation. We read in Isaiah 30:15, “in returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” In the New Testament, Jesus offers more than emotional rest when he calls out the invitation, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest …you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:28). Rest for the soul (inward tranquility while laboring) is manifested as peace.
I’d like to close with a small prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, I come before you distressed and worried with myself and the world around me. My heart is rebellious and my sins have helped create these situations. I ask you Father for grace to conquer myself. Restore me and grant me peace to walk in your presence. Amen