On a weekly basis I’ll hear things like, “I have too many things on my calendar” or, “At the end of the day I don’t have energy for my spouse, kids or the people who matter most to me.” We are a tired, overwhelmed and rundown bunch of people.
One of the questions that has been helpful to Katie and me is, Am I living in a way that is sustainable and will help me thrive tomorrow?
Why does this matter?
God calls us to be healthy. Healthy spiritually, physically, relationally, emotionally, and mentally. God created, us and all of us are meant to glorify Him.
This is a question that pushes on wisdom. In your life and your family right now, are you living in a way that will help you be healthy and thrive tomorrow? Is it sustainable? In churches, many times people burn out because they overload their calendars. We say yes to too many things. I have friends who are in four Bible studies a week, run their kids to ballet, orchestra, baseball and football, and serve in six ministries. Now, once you ask the question are we living in a sustainable way, you will often cut things out of your life. This is a good thing. However, the problem appears in the cutting. The second part is what will help me thrive tomorrow. That answer is harder. Not harder to discern but harder to apply. Most of the time I’ll see people cut God or church out of their lives in favor of hobbies or their kids’ sports. That won’t help you thrive tomorrow.
So what is the answer? What is our hope?
Learning to see and live with Jesus as our rest.
Tim Keller helps us with what this looks like:
God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave – to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.
Thus Sabbath is about more than external rest of the body; it is about inner rest of the soul. We need rest from the anxiety and strain of our overwork, which is really an attempt to justify ourselves—to gain the money or the status or the reputation we think we have to have. Avoiding overwork requires deep rest in Christ’s finished work for your salvation (Hebrews 4:1–10). Only then will you be able to ‘walk away’ regularly from your vocational work and rest.
What does that look like practically on a day to day basis? Here are a few ideas:
1. Let go because Jesus has this. As our Sabbath rest, we need to let go and give Jesus our burdens, stress, and anxiety and rest in Him. We know we will have burdens, stress and anxieties because Jesus tells us we will, and we are to give them to him. Because of Jesus’ work, coming from heaven to earth, we are able to accept our limitations. Because Jesus is limitless, we can rest in Him. Not only that, seeing Jesus as our rest is about trusting and enjoying Jesus as better than what we are running from or running in.
2. Schedule rest and recreation. It won’t just happen. Hebrews 4 tells us that we are to enter God’s rest. Exodus 20 tells us to, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” There is an active move on our part as it relates to rest. Sabbath throughout Scripture is an intentional thing, not something that is thrown together at the end.
The reality in being intentional also comes into play when it comes to our calendars and how we spend our time. Our lack of rest, while we often blame others, really comes down to our problem of stopping, trusting God and being okay with not doing certain things.
You’ve heard me say that everytime you say yes to one thing you say no to something else.
Maybe you should take your kids out of activities so you can spend the evening together. The number one complaint I hear from people is, “I don’t have time. I don’t have time for hobbies, sleep, my marriage, relationships, kids, reading my Bible.” You do, you just gave that time away. You give your time to the things that matter most. So what gets your time is what is important. This is why taking control of your calendar matters. If you don’t control your calendar, someone else will.
3. Learn how you rest best. What does enjoying God look like? I think there are some basic principles, but each of us will do this in unique ways. If the goal of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, Sabbath rest is a great way to do this.
For all of us, this will also include the reality of place. Place matters when it comes to glorifying God, enjoying God and resting in God.
Place is all throughout Scripture. Adam and Eve were given a garden, the nation of Israel was given a land, the church is given a city in Revelation. There is a place where rest, connecting to God, feeling closer to God happens for each of us, and it is important to think through that. For some it is a farm, the woods, a mountain, a city, a beach, but figure it out.
4. Fight against technology. A few practical things help me: resting from social media once a week, not having phones at the table so I can enjoy family time and conversations with friends, not checking email at night or on the weekends. The sad thing is that study after study says that as we become more and more technological as a culture, we become more and more distant and lonely.
5. Review your day and week. In his helpful book The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan says that at the end of your day ask: Where did I feel most alive, most hopeful, most in the presence of God? And where did I feel most dead, most despairing, farthest from God? What fulfilled me, and what left me forsaken? Where did I taste consolation, and where desolation? This helps you to see where God is moving and at work. Part of Sabbath rest is celebrating that God is in control, resting in that, but also celebrating God’s goodness in our lives.