Pastor Kyle McIver
One of the most common exchanges I hear between people today is the question “How are you doing?” followed by a response of either “Busy” or “Tired.” I’ve answered in this same way many times myself. And I think the frequency of this exchange exposes something about us: we don’t understand rest. It seems that many of us are either too busy and neglect rest altogether, or else we’ve adopted a stunted version of rest that amounts to scrolling on our phones or watching shows on a streaming service. In both cases, we live in a state of stress and busyness, wearily managing to get through each day.
I want to examine both of those very briefly. First, being too busy to rest. A lot of us feel this way. The to-do list is long, especially on the weekends. There’s never enough time in the day, but once you get caught up on those projects and tasks, then you’ll really be able to rest… Except you never do get caught up. The list is never finished, the work is never finally complete. As soon as you’ve finished one task, two more appear on your list.
So rest cannot be optional… dependent on just the right circumstances. And we know this because God himself rested - the only person who didn’t need to, rested! God created in six days and rested on the seventh. Why? It wasn’t out of his own need - he wasn’t exhausted from speaking galaxies into existence. He rested for our sake - to set the pattern for his image-bearers to follow. Church - rest is both a command and a gift, so we do well to humbly receive it.
Second, let’s think about resting well. Now I do believe that watching a movie or a favorite show constitutes rest. I enjoy resting that way with Allie some evenings. But it’s also true that if your diet of rest is made up exclusively of entertainment, then you’re missing out on the fullness of rest that God intended. Our rest needs to be well-rounded: entertainment, laughter, solitude, nature, reading, napping and a good night’s sleep, spending time with friends, and enjoying a hobby. We cannot be so serious or so constantly busy that we don’t have room to simply receive good gifts like these. They are healthy - our bodies and our minds truly respond with purposeful, God-designed benefits when we engage in different varieties of rest.
And I will tell you all, I’m looking forward to this kind of well-rounded rest. Last Wednesday you all as the congregation graciously approved my upcoming sabbatical (for which I want to say thank you!), during which I plan to rest. I’d actually appreciate if you all would ask me if I’m resting! I know I’ll feel pulled to work more, to “get more done” with the added margin in my life. But I also know that getting more tasks completed isn’t always what brings contentment and rest. There is a time to get things done and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, and there is a time to prioritize rest and not get things done.
So Redeemer - my exhortation to you this morning is to receive God’s gift of rest, and to do it well. Let’s not confuse rest with laziness. Get a well-balanced diet of rest in your life! Get enough sleep, read good books, linger over God’s word, and enjoy a good movie. Do it all from a heart that prizes Jesus, recognizes rest as a gift from him, and looks forward to the eternal rest he has already secured for you.