“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:1-4
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
“For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” – Hebrews 4:10
Honestly, I don’t remember third grade being this hard. Joey has an amazing teacher this year, and I have taken a sabbatical from teaching to work on other things. But I am still the head of the homework brigade – a brigade of which Joey has little or no desire to be a part.
Recently, we pulled into the school parking lot, with Joey near tears over the final studying push for his spelling quiz. I hated to do it, but I knew he was still struggling with a few of the words. As he grabbed his bag to go in, we realized his lunch box was at home on the kitchen table – sixteen miles away. He closed the car door and trudged away without a word. Near tears myself, with the stench of mom-fail in my nostrils, I headed for the nearest grocery store to cobble together a snack and lunch.
As I returned to the school, I was met at the front door by the principal. He greeted me warmly, and assured me he would take the lunch to Joey. It was a five-second interaction, but somehow, it was the grace I needed. I had raced up to the door, worried about my boy, battle-weary and feeling like a failure at intentional parenting. But as I handed off Joey’s lunch, I breathed in a deep, cleansing breath. My work was not done, and my work was sadly lacking, and yet the God of all comfort gave me rest in that moment.
In Leviticus 25, God prescribes something for His people that challenges their survival instincts and tests their trust – rest. This chapter outlines the sabbath for the land – the process God would use to prosper them in the Promised Land. God told them to plant and harvest for 6 years straight, and then – take a year off. To a nation that had survived generations of slavery by exhibiting back-breaking productivity, it was counter-intuitive. According to God’s instructions, they were not even allowed to harvest what grew naturally during that seventh year. All they needed to do was give God room to work, so that they – and the land – could rest.
God’s rest was the bookend to the story of Creation (Genesis 2:1-3). Sabbath rest was one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11). Rest was a promise, and a plea to take hold of that promise, from the lips of Jesus, Himself (Matthew 11:28-30). And yet, it’s still completely counter-intuitive to us today – and never more so than at the holidays. And at this time of year, we can end up on hyper-drive, chasing an elusive perfection that renders the season superficial and leaves us empty and exhausted.
This Christmas, I encourage you to have a Sabbath-like intentionality about finding rest. Make time for a “Selah” pause in your life that honors the Holy God Who isn’t bound or boxed in by the traditions and trappings of man – the God Who completed the work of salvation on our behalf and is able to complete everything else that concerns us (Exodus 31:13-15, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 77:11-13, 86:1-3, 115:3, 121:3-5, 138:8, Hebrews 4:9-11, I Peter 5:10).
Give yourself time to hear God’s voice, room to see His hand at work, and the opportunity to be amazed by all He is and all He has done. Remember that our God – the God Who came to us as a tiny baby – is the Prince of Peace, Who calms storms and often speaks in a still, small voice.
Rest is a gift from God that can open our eyes to all of His other gifts. Rest is a form of trust, a form of gratitude, and a chance to sit back and revel in the wonder of God at work in your life. So this season, take hold of all the rest you can get. Breathe it in. Embrace it. And embrace the God Who never slumbers or sleeps – so that you can find rest.
Give it a rest. Make time this holiday season to really see the love and provision of God. Celebrate the season by trusting God to perfect the things that really matter.