Today is Labor Day and, ironically, a day to stop all labor in recognition of the hard work we’re already doing. Every year we Americans look forward to this day of bonfires, barbecues and play. We plan around it, make room for it, and revel in the day of rest we have been given.
What we often miss is that God gave us another Labor Day and it is not just once a year, but once a week when we can stop all of our work in order to rest – and rest in Him. But we have such a hard time doing it. In his book The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan writes:
“The lie the taskmasters want you to swallow is that you cannot rest until your work’s all done, and done better than you’re currently doing it. But the truth is, the work’s never done, and never done quite right. It’s always more than you can finish and less than you had hoped for…
“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 order 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.” (93)
I have trouble accepting this gift of rest. The value of hard work has been so embedded into my soul that I often run myself ragged. I feel that if I don’t push hard, if I don’t perform, if I should stop or say no, that perhaps I will not be valued or valuable.
The other day, my friend asked me to help her paint her house on my Sabbath day of rest. I wanted to help and I rationalized that since it was working at her house and I’d be with friends, it wouldn’t really be working. It wasn’t until my husband questioned my logic that I began to reconsider. Eventually I knew I had to say no and I told her why. I was nervous, afraid I would upset my friend, but she quickly responded:
What?! You turn your phone off and go do things that feed your soul. What were you even doing considering coming!! Work is work honey – please rest… I hope you have a really good Sabbath. I’ll be praying God meets you in a sweet way.
The Lord calls us over and over to rest in Him. I am grateful for the gentle reminders of others to accept his gift of rest.
Were you able to rest from your labor today? This weekend? What would it look like for you to receive the rest of God?
On August 24th, I preached “Receiving the Rest of God” at Corona Presbyterian. You can find the sermon here. Click on “Launch Media Player” and look for the Date, my name and sermon title.
This post is a Monday Moment. A time to start our weeks strong with the help of others.