From a Culture of Busy to a Culture of Rest

There’s an epidemic of busyness. From oldest to youngest, we all suffer from a society that reinforces the idea that busy is better. We don’t take the long holidays in summers, and instead of a time of leisure or renewal weekends become packed with errands, engagements, and chores.

The strange paradox of all this busyness is that there is some pretty convincing evidence that we aren’t actually that busy. What we call “busy” is more often wasted time that wasn’t set aside to NOT be busy. On average, Americans have more time than previous generations, according to an article in Johns Hopkins Health Review. Yet we feel as though we are always busy. But are we really? If you need a quick check, ask yourself these questions: How full is your DVR? Have you recently binge-watched shows on Netflix and seen that little “Are you still watching” screen pop up? What does your social media or internet use look like? What you may realize, is that you do have access to free time, but you fill it in ways that don’t resemble rest.

So the question we must ask is, what does real rest look like?

From the very beginning of his relationship with the Israelites, God calls His people to a Sabbath rest. It is a theme throughout all of Scripture, from God resting on the Seventh Day of Creation, to the Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and continued throughout scripture even to Jesus observing the Sabbath.

If we look to scripture, there are a few key ingredients to rest that we must implement if we ever hope to be rested and refreshed (Exodus 31:7) the way God intended. First, it is a scheduled an appointed time. After creation, it was the seventh day. This is the same day God instituted for his people in Leviticus (Lev. 23:3). It is to be a specific time set apart to not labor or work. If we WAIT for a time of rest, or for our work to have an end, it won’t happen. We need to plan for it, to make it happen. If you want to meet someone for coffee, you don’t just hope to run into them at Starbucks one day. You schedule it. You set reminders. You block off the time and don’t plan anything else during that time. We need to approach the Sabbath the same way.

The next piece is how we spend our Sabbath. God calls his people to be a holy people, set apart (Lev. 23:2). This means we will look different that the rest of the world. He doesn’t just tell you to rest. He tells you HOW to rest, and that typically means a time set apart for the Lord, for feasting, remembering his good works, and worship. Jesus was found teaching at the temple on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), healing occurred on the Sabbath (John 5:8), and people feasted on the Sabbath (Acts 20:7). It’s not just a call away from our regular busyness to catch up on our chores or favorite shows, but a time set apart for renewal and rest in the LORD.