Rest is a vital part of life. The Bible, from its beginning chapters, establishes the place of rest as an essential aspect of being human.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:2-3, NIV).
After six days of creating everything beautiful, intricate and perfect, God completes his work by resting. (God is the Master of Completion!) But does God who knows everything and has unlimited energy and power, really need to take a break?
No and yes.
No, God does not need to restore his energy. But, yes, he establishes the rhythms of life to protect its sanctity, its specialness. There are days of creation -- all introduced by the phrase “God spoke” and concluded by the phrase “It was evening, is was morning” and the number of the day, one through six. Then to ground the daily rhythms of creation, the final day is enhanced by the use of the word “seventh” three times, giving an emphasis far greater than the first six days.
Everything in creation is created in rhythm. We are created to live rhythmically. Seven days repeated every four weeks in twenty-eight-day phases of the moon circling the earth. The lunar rhythm is repeated twelve times in the annual cycle of the earth and moon around the sun. Author Eugene Peterson writes, “These large encompassing rhythms call forth regularities of spring births, summer growth, autumn harvest, and winter sleep.”
In the story of creation even God rests -- not because he needs to recharge his energy, but to establish the sacred rhythms of life. God does in Genesis 2 what he does at the beginning of the New Testament, he engages human life by condescending to our lives.
We are composed of rhythms: the days, months and years, the pulse of the heart and breath. The heart beats at sixty, or eighty, or a hundred times a minute. We breathe fifteen, twenty, or thirty times a minute. We are immersed in rhythms. Time is in us. We are in time. Rhythms are the essence of being human.
Ignore rhythms by being busy all the time and life is desecrated. Dismiss rhythms by procrastination and we fall victim to lazy inattentiveness, and the holy nature of life is cheapened.
Hours and days and weeks and months and years are the very stuff of holiness, of the distinctively special nature of life. Make Sundays just another day of busyness, forget taking time off, and life is cheapened.
Even those who must work on Sundays, can creatively make times of rest and worship. With the internet and various alternative opportunities to worship during the week, it is possible to observe a sabbath and worship time.
Two precious aspects of my childhood were Sundays and vacations. I can clearly remember that my parents so valued our life together. Mom and Dad worked hard and lived very active lives. Dad was a borderline workaholic. But we always were in a weekly rhythm of a day of rest. On Sundays we took a break of worship and learning with church family, and we took occasional vacations. Trips to Grandma Gaug’s house, Lake Milton, Cedar Point, Georgia, Washington, DC, Florida, and a local resort in Ravenna, Ohio, are precious memories. We honored the time of our lives. It helped me to understand the holy rhythm of life. In our very busy lives we slowed down for God, family, and friends.
We needed to practice the reality of the Rhythm-Maker.
Rest reminds us the One behind every pulse, every breath. Thank God for the weekly rhythms of rest and annual cycles of vacation, May you and your family be blessed with weekly breaks from the frantic pace of life and good vacation times.