This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Mark Bethea, First Baptist Church, Montgomery
We have a saying around the house, “What’s the rest of the week look like?” We say it often as we try to navigate through meetings, activities, ballgames, and fun opportunities. It helps us know what’s ahead, but it’s also a reminder of all that is ahead.
We’re in a busy time, in a busy culture, in a busy world. We almost wear the badge of busyness as an indication of worth or importance. And with it, we’re tired, worn out, and exhausted.
Let me ask a few questions. Are you:
Drained or overflowing?
Burned out or fueled up?
Exhausted or energized?
Spent or rested?
Do you identify with the left side of the list or the ride side of adjectives? Nearly every person I’ve conversed with in the past several weeks has overwhelmingly identified as drained, burned out, exhausted, and spent. That’s a problem that the Bible gives overwhelming and clear help.
As God crafted the galaxies, stars, earth, universe, and man, He rested on the seventh day. He surely didn’t rest because He depleted or exhausted His resources. He surely didn’t rest because He was tired or in need. As we see outlined later, God rested to set forth the pattern for His creation of rest.
Sabbath rest was given as a blessing to mankind, not as a burden. To put aside work and striving for an amount of time to rest and refuel our souls. God has wired rest into our souls at creation. When we neglect rest, we neglect it to the detriment of our own spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Jesus affirmed the need for rest when he replied in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” He further reminded us of the need to pull away and rest while with His disciples in Mark 6. They’re all in the midst of tremendous ministry and exhausting needs. They certainly could have spent much more time with the people helping and healing. Instead, Jesus says, “Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.”
Answering just one more email likely won’t help us to rest better. Responding to just one more text message won’t ease our soul’s exhaustion. Working late one more night will never let our hearts, souls, and bodies to rest better. We have to unplug, disconnect, and intentionally strive to rest.
It feels a little paradoxical to say work to rest, but we know it can be difficult to actually rest well. We have to work at resting. A pastor once said, “We should take our rest as seriously as we take our work.”
At the end of the day, we see God’s hand all over the affirmation of our rest. Jesus words, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Isn’t that good? Rest for your souls in Jesus. Not in another email, not in another text message, not in another late night, but in Jesus we find rest.
Allow me to encourage you to work at your rest. Find ways to intentionally rest. After all, Corrie ten Boom was famous for saying, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy!”
Slow down and rest well!
Mark Bethea is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, 305 S. Perry Street.