I wonder if one of the main hindrances for taking time for rest could be that we have a never ending to do list. Seriously, there is just too much to do, so how can I be okay with stopping to rest? I can see the struggle in my own heart to put aside all my to do lists for a day of rest, but I don’t want my lists to dictate my life or keep me from resting. Are you a slave to your to do list?
In Exodus, we read about the Israelite people being slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them and brought them into a life of freedom.
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:15
Having a day of rest was a reminder to the Israelite’s that they were no longer slaves, they could stop and rest one day a week. It was a reminder that God was their provider.
Each day in the wilderness God provided food for the Israelites, and he had them gather extra the day before the Sabbath so that they didn’t have to work by gathering food on the Sabbath. God not only provided food, but he made it easy to obey his command to not work on one day, but to rest instead.
To refuse Sabbath is in effect to spurn the gift of freedom. It is to resume willingly what we once cried out for God to deliver us from… Slaves don’t rest. Slaves can’t rest. Slaves, by definition, have no freedom to rest. Rest, it turns out, is a condition of liberty. God calls us to live in the freedom that he won for us with his own outstretched arm. Sabbath is a refusal to go back to Egypt.”
The rest of God–the rest God gladly gives so that we might discover that part of God we’re missing– is not a reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done. It’s sheer gift. It is a stop-work in the midst of work that’s never complete, never polished. Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”
Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God
There will always be things to do, but we have a choice. Do we stop and be refreshed regularly and live like we are free? Or do we live like we are slaves, only following a to do list that we must get done?
I enjoy making lists and checking off what I have accomplished. But on my day of rest I do not need to accomplish anything specific. A to do list can be helpful, but I do not want it to become my slave driver, demanding that I keep going and never take a break. Instead I want to choose to receive the gift of rest each week that God is freely offering to me.
Check out this to do list battle cry by Diana Kerr. One of my favorite lines from this battle cry is: “I will find rest at the foot of the cross and at the sight of the empty grave, in the God who took my burden on himself and gifted me rest—including rest from to-do lists—as a sacred gift.”
Do you allow your to do list to dictate your life? If so, I want to challenge you to set aside that list of tasks for one half or full day, and rest instead. I would love to hear how that changes things for you!
What/who are the taskmasters in your life that you allow to keep you from regularly resting? What will it take for you to stop listening to them and live like a free child of God?