Carl Jung once said, “Busyness is not of the devil, it is the devil.” Busyness is the enemy of rest. It’s the enemy of our health, our mental peace, and our spiritual strength. Often, we don’t recognize it for what it is because it comes disguised as good and important things. But we should look harder.
God designed us to work, but His intention wasn’t that we work 24/7. He also designed us to rest. This built-in need for rest is so important that God Himself, the One Who never sleeps nor slumbers, modeled it for us. After six days of creative work, He rested on the seventh day. When He handed down the law to Moses, He mandated a day of rest–alongside such mandates as “do not steal” and “do not kill”! Maybe we should take rest a little more seriously.
When we think about rest, we should consider three aspects: physical, mental, and spiritual. No one needs to tell us that physical rest is a requirement. We all get tired, and we all sleep. However, we tend to overlook the overwhelming benefits of sleep. Our brains rewire themselves, improving memory and cognitive ability. Our bodies heal themselves, lowering our risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity. Our muscles repair wear and tear and strengthen themselves. We awake in a better mood with a brighter outlook on life (NBC). It is clear that getting the right amount of sleep, which most experts agree is a minimum of seven hours a night, is something we should prioritize. So why don’t we?
The Psalmist tells us that our lack of sleep comes from a place of vanity and anxiety over the things of the world: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2) Peaceful sleep is a gift from God that we can only have when we aren’t encumbered by the things of the world. This leads us to the need for mental rest.
The Psalmist paints a clear picture of mental rest in Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” In this beloved Psalm, we find no anxiousness or worry, only restoration and calm. The Apostle Paul instructs us about this too: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Mental rest and peace comes through quiet times spent alone with God. This is exactly what Jesus modeled for us and the disciples. Luke tells us that Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” (Luke 5:16) When the pressing crowds and demands of people became too much, He stole away and talked with His Father.
The final aspect of rest is spiritual. Throughout the week, we are buffeted by spiritual enemies. We’re literally at war (1 Peter 2:11). But God knew we would be, and therefore commanded we allocate one day out of seven to renew our spirit by spending time with Him. It wasn’t a suggestion; it was a command. But this command, like all of them, was for our benefit. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) We need a day to set aside the things of the world.
In the book of Isaiah we read,
“If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath, from doing whatever you want on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, seeking your own pleasure, or talking business; then you will delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride over the heights of the land, and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”Isaiah 58:13-14, CSB
Do you desire to ride the mountain tops, delighting in the Lord and taking in all His promises? Then take the Sabbath seriously, as well as other times of rest, renewing your body, mind and spirit in the presence of the Father.