Hebrews 4:6 New International Version (NIV)6 “Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest…”
In my last blog, I wrestled with trying to find rest in the midst of my restlessness. Since then, the idea of being able to rest has been simmering on the back burner of my mind. How do I actually rest? How do I ignore the myriad of things that need to be done to rest?
I had an epiphany. I was trying to accomplish ‘resting’ by using the same rules I used for working! I was trying to power through, to check off ‘rest’ just like I would a task on my to-do list at work. I was trying to do this on my own, controlling how it got done.
Last week, I decided to ‘rest’ differently than I had ever done before. I decided to ask God how I should go about it. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. One realization I had was that to rest does not mean ‘sit quietly in the corner with your hands folded and legs crossed.’ It is a different kind of active. It’s a break from the normal routine of my life.
I also realized it is not a rigid ‘this is how it is done every week, the exact same way.’ Matthew 12:12 informs us that Jesus caused an uproar with the Pharisees because he picked grain on the Sabbath day, yet He came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17).
So if Jesus never broke the Sabbath day law, how was what Jesus did not ‘work’ even though it involved picking grain which is ‘work?’
I finally understood the difference last weekend during my day of rest. I asked God to be in my day of rest, and guide me with all that I do. That caused me to ponder, what activities can be ‘restful’ even though they might on the outside appear to be work to an observer?
I realized that underlies any activity is the motivation behind which an activity is driven. On one day, futzing with my plants outside can be enjoyable and relaxing, on another day, it would be work. Connecting with people can be work (taking care of business) or restful. Most of the time going to garage sales would be work, on one day it was a divine connection. Most of the time, picking grain is work, on that one day, it was divine communion. If it’s stressful, it’s not restful. If it’s striving, it’s not thriving. If it’s forcing, it’s not freeing.
As I was contemplating exactly what a restful day to delight in the Lord looked like, I decided to ask God to lead me. My goal was to have community with God. What I felt inspired to do was to go to a community garage sale. It was different than any garage sale experience I’ve ever had. I found community with God at a community sale!
The first difference was that God was front and center on my mind…the whole time. I was not focused on my usual hunt for ‘something I didn’t know I needed’ until I found ‘something I can’t live without.’
It wasn’t a mad rush to go from one place to the next and catch a deal before the person ahead of me snatched what I wanted. It was relaxing. It was looking for opportunities to say little things that would be a blessing to others or put a smile on their faces. It was an opportunity to bolster the confidence of 8-year-old lemonade-stand entrepreneurs. It was an opportunity to practice listening to the almost-imperceptible nudge of God-with-me every step of the way.
Do I go left or right? In response I felt ‘turn right’ though it seemed it was going away from the highest concentration of garages spilling out their contents. The sale I came to boasted ‘DVD’s for sale.’ I remembered I wanted to get the first ‘Ice Age’ movie because my grandson is really into it. Our old VHS copy of it sports so much ‘snow’ in poor quality that I think that’s how the Ice Age started. I ask if she has ‘Ice Age’. The owner pointed to the woman standing there with a pile of DVD’s in her arm. She got it! My first thought was “I missed my opportunity!” My second thought was, “With God there is abundance and no lack.’ I decided not to be upset.
Where do I go next? ‘turn left.’ Okay. I did. Next stop there was a brand-new looking fan rake for $1.00. Ours had given up its ability to be useful and found its way to the trash a couple years ago. This place also had DVD’s…and ‘Ice Age’…but it was the 2nd movie, not the first one that my grandson loves. So I asked the gentleman, “Do you happen to have the original one?” He thought all the movies were already in the garage, but he said he would check inside just in case. He came outside, with my request in hand! So I got what I wanted! God provided.
I learned: I don’t have to be jealous of what others have, because God has infinite ways to provide. I also can trust His provision….If I’m willing to be patient and wait for it to come in the manner He deems best.
I find that easy to do with small things. It’s not easy at all with big things.
That day, I had more fun stopping at sales, gathering useful things, being in fellowship with God the whole way, positively interacting with others, and resting! I also heard ‘okay, we’re done’ after a couple hours. Normally, I’d be at it all day. I felt content. Complete. And I hadn’t even spent all my money!
It wasn’t about acquiring things, though I did. It wasn’t about getting amazing bargains, though I got some screaming deals. It wasn’t about shopping, though I was. It was all about resting. It was unconventional. I also suspect that is not normally how I will be spending my rest days.
It was a lesson to teach me that a ‘rest day’ is about connection with God and others. Things are a means to help with that connection. I cannot predict how future rest days will look because God is one who likes surprises, variety, creativity, and uniqueness. I have learned that rest is more about attitude, motivation, and community.
I can be doing things that look like I’m outwardly resting, but my mind can be going a million miles a minute. That’s not rest. I can be doing things that may appear to be working but done with the right attitude and intent and it’s not work. Only I know when I’m truly resting and when I’m not.
What to you is truly resting? I encourage you to ask God weekly what and when is the best way for you to rest.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9 (NIV).