“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Genesis 2:2-3
Out of the two hundred sixty-seven times the word “rest” is found in the New International Version of the Bible, this is the first. Firsts and lasts are important in the Bible, they usually tell us a lot in just one short verse. This instance is no different. It absolutely thrills me that this verse is the first time that the word “work” is mentioned AND the first time the word “rest” is mentioned, coincidence? DEFINITELY NOT!!! God’s “work” of creating was finished in seven days. Do I think they were literal twenty-four hour days? Yes. Why? Because He’s GOD, what other reason do I need??? When you really think about it, it probably could have only taken Him an instant to create the entire universe, again, He’s GOD. But instead He took His time, and enjoyed the work of His hands, continually stepping back from each stage of creation to admire His work and remark emphatically “It is good”. He enjoyed what He was doing. And yet, on the seventh day, He still stopped doing it. Why? To set an example for us. I mean, you don’t honestly think He rested because He was tired do you? Remember, He’s GOD. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done something just because my kids were watching, said something because I knew my kids would “over-hear” me. I believe this instance to be the same. God was resting as an example for us to follow, because we being, well, not God, need rest. An entire day of it every week.
Life is a journey, a very long one for most of us. One in which many rest stops are required in order to complete the journey successfully. Many people have set out to accomplish something monumental, only to fall short of their goal due to lack of rest and/or support. Human shoulders were never created to carry burdens, especially large ones for long periods of time, and neither were human hearts.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon [the richest king Israel ever had] in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” Matthew 6:25-34
Yahweh God, is our Father. Jesus the Messiah is our husband. The Holy Spirit is our comforter and helper. Together these three are one God, a God who cherishes us and calls us all by name. While our worries can not add a single hour to our life, they do subtract them! There are many studies that have shown how stress is very bad for our bodies. Stress, or worry, tears at our spirits. It makes them sick, sometimes to the point of becoming physically ill in a multitude of ways. Yet ALL of this can be avoided by simply resting.
God knows what we need before we ever need it. He had only created mankind the day before and yet the very next day, before they had even had a chance to work let alone get tired, He was instituting the first Sabbath day. Boy our God is good!!! He CARES for us. He cares about the little details in our lives, like the food we eat and the clothes we wear, so why wouldn’t He care about how we rest as well? First Peter chapter five verse seven tells us to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will HIMSELF restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
In Matthew seven verse seven Jesus tells us that when we ask for things, God hears us and sends answers to our prayers. They’re not always the answers we like, but they are always, without fail, the answers we need. In verse nine through eleven He explains, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” God cares for you like a Father, He wants to provide for you all the things you need… including rest!
Right now you may feel like God has forgotten or forsaken you, but that is a bold-faced lie from the father of lies himself! God tells us through the prophet Isaiah: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” (49:15) Your name has been engraved on the palms of His hands with the nails that pierced those beautiful strong hands at Calvary. Trust me my friend, He is incapable of forgetting or ignoring you because He cares for you too much. But perhaps, you’ve been ignoring Him. His pleadings for you to slow down and notice Him, sitting in your quiet time chair waiting for you to join Him.
Do you have a spot where you routinely meet with God? A place that is set aside for that very special purpose? If not I suggest you find one, it’s amazing what a difference it can make! How just visiting that sacred spot can calm your soul, only if it’s for a brief moment. You can “still and quiet your soul; like a weaned child with its mother,” (Psalm 131:2) there. When a child is nursing its mother is its source of nourishment and therefore when it is in its mother’s arms it will fuss until it receives the milk it desires. However, a weaned child in its mother’s arms is a completely different story. Once weaned from its mother’s milk the child no longer seeks its mother’s arms for nourishment, but for company, for love, affection and comfort. So it also should be for us in our Father’s arms. We should be routinely (daily and weekly) seeking shelter from life’s storms under the wings of the Father who cares for us enough to engrave our names on His palms.
Yes, a Father like that I can find rest in! And so can you, when you seek Him you will find Him. But don’t seek Him for what He can do for you or what He can give you. Seek Him because He loves you. Seek Him because He cares for you. Seek Him because you want to know Him more as the Father, husband and comforter that He is. Cast all your cares, burdens and anxieties on Him because He cares for you! He is love, get to know that love more intimately through prayer and study. When you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him and He will knock your socks off! He has mine! He loves you so desperately; won’t you let Him tell you how much? Give yourself permission to take some time and rest in the LORD today.
I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,
said I, as my overtaxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought that my mind possessed,
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.
Will God forgive me, do you suppose,
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without questioning if I may,
Without even trying to trust and pray?
Will God forgive you? Think back, dear heart,
When language to you was an unknown art,
Did your mother deny you needed rest,
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?
Did she let you want when you could not ask?
Did she give her child an unequal task?
Or did she cradle you in her arms,
And then guard your slumber against alarms?
Oh, how quickly a mother’s love can see,
The unconscious yearnings of infancy.
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,
When overworked nature has quite given way:
Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,
As you used to do on mother’s breast,
He knows all about it – the dear Lord knows,
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;
Without even asking if you may,
God knows when His child is too tired to pray.
He judges not solely by uttered prayer,
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.
He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,
And He knows, too, the limits of poor, weak dust.
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,
When He told them, “Sleep and take your rest,”
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed –
You have trusted your life to Him to keep,
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.
– Ella Conrad Cowherd*
* Ella Conrad Cowherd. Streams in the Desert. (Grand Rapids Michigan: Zondervan, 1997), 476.