10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.
Exodus 23:10-12 (New International Version)
Always on the Go
We live in a culture that is always on the go. People are awakened by alarm clocks (before they are even fully rested); they are driven awake by all forms of caffeine; and they are compelled to go to bed at an indecent hour due to deadlines that they have set upon themselves. With all the hustle and bustle that we go through, no wonder we suffer from mental breakdowns, experience physical illness, and have strained relationships; we are living a life in the fast lane and we are burning out.
A God of Rest
In Exodus 23, the Lord gives to Moses commandments that talk about rest. I find it interesting that the Lord had to give the children of Israel a command to rest; not just rest for themselves, but also rest for their livestock and their fields. He had to do this because He knew that it was in their nature to never stop working. Throughout Scripture, the Almighty encourages His people to rest from their work at least one day a week. Why was rest so important to the Lord?
Our Bodies Need Rest
While God Himself has no need to rest, since He is eternal, He stresses the importance of rest because non-stop work is not healthy for His creation. Our bodies are too fragile to bear the strain of endless work. When we don’t rest, our bodies will eventually break down, like a car that runs out of gas. Why do we have this tendency to live our lives on the go all the time?
Driven By Fear
A lot of it, I believe, is because of our fear that if we rest for just a minute, all the work that we have done will be unraveled. This fear is grounded, I think, in our lack of trust in God. We do not believe that He will take care of us, so we decide to take matters in our own hands and work to provide for ourselves. The problem with this is that the process of providing for ourselves is a 24/7 endeavor, and our bodies are incapable of accomplishing such a feat.
All Things In God’s Hands
To think that we can provide for ourselves is foolish indeed, for who gave us the means to work and the resources to do it but the Lord God Himself. As much as we do not like to admit it, nothing that is in our hands is truly under our control. Everything that happens in our life was put into play according to the will of the Lord.
God is Faithful
Now the Lord is faithful and will provide for us all that we need. Even when we a take a break from working, He will still take care of us; His provision is not conditional on us working. Therefore, let us trust God and set aside time to rest; and as we do so, let it be a rest that is grounded in peace. After all, a rest that is dominated by fear and anxiety is not rest at all. With that in mind, let go of fear and embrace faith in God and rest in that faith.