Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Genesis 2:1 -3
I was tired. Really tired. Tired in a way I had never felt before. No matter how much I slept, I couldn’t seem to shake this internal weariness. On all fronts—physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally—I was exhausted.
What once gave me joy grew dull. The Bible felt like a textbook. I needed pep talks to do the most basic tasks. But I could not stop. I had to keep going, keep grinding it out, and keep pushing myself until . . .
A word I didn’t think I would use to describe myself in my late 20s. Yet there I was, experiencing what a close friend and counselor called, “a near mental breakdown.” I had been running in the red so long that slowing down seemed slothful and rest seemed lazy.
Sadly, busyness is a badge of honor in our culture. One that far too many wear proudly as they grow evermore weary. Ask someone how they are doing and what is the main response? “I am busy.” Often shared with a hint of pride. Yet, when we hear words like “simplify,” “margin,” “rest,” we sigh with desired relief.
We were made for rest.
So what does it mean to be still when the current is flowing faster than your heart can catch up with?
The original audience of Genesis were such people: always striving, but never arriving. Many believe the first hearers of Genesis were the Hebrew people freed from Egypt. For over four hundred years (longer than America has been America), the Hebrew people dug their hands in mud to make bricks and buildings. Their entire self-worth as humans was wrapped up in their ability to work.
Wake up. Produce. Go to Bed. Repeat. Sound familiar?
To reinforce this false narrative, ancient pagan myths spoke of the gods as those who created the world so mankind would work for them. The entire worldview was centered around the simple lie: you exist to perform and produce.
Then along comes the true God to present a new narrative.
A clear, although subtle, pattern appears in the rhythm of creation. Each day begins in the evening. “It was evening and it was morning.” The day begins, not in the morning when we are rushing off to the day’s task, but in the evening when relief from work comes. God is resetting a pattern of thinking. Your day begins with rest, not work.
In fact, the first full day of humanity was one of rest. Mankind was created on the sixth day. So when they woke on the seventh, they began their existence resting with God.
On day seven, God enters into rest. God does not grow weary, so why rest? Because God is inviting his image bearers to mimic him. Like a father with a small child, God shows humanity how to live. The rest of God is an invitation for us to rest in God.
In this act, God reclaims the narrative. You are not a machine. You are the image of God. No longer do you exist to merely produce. You exist to rest in God.
When we rest we cease from our desire to control, produce, or perform. When we rest, we receive from God what we need, rather than trying to earn what we want from God or others. When we rest, we are reminded that our significance is not found in what we do, but rather in who we are.
When we rest in God, we actually get to experience the rest of God. We get to experience both the rest he invites us into (be still and know that I am God), but also the remaining aspects of God’s character that are only available when we slow our lives down.
God meets us in our productivity with his energy and power. But he meets us in our rest with his healing and care.
When Jesus came, he made it an intentional practice to heal on the Sabbath. Sabbath was the day of rest. Jesus is inviting us into a deeper reality of how the world works. He heals on the Sabbath, because it is in Sabbath rest that we are healed.
Jesus is returning the rhythm of life back to us. In a world marked by hurried hearts and busyness badges, Jesus stands with arms wide declaring, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus cares more about your intimacy with him than your activity for him.
For years, the batteries of my soul were slowly draining. I remained unaware until my good shepherd “made me lie down in green pastures” in order to restore my soul. Like any drained battery, I did not recharge right away. I needed to reorient my life into healthy rhythms of rest and work. But in time, I felt alive again. The Bible was no longer a textbook. I could finish my day with joy, not exhaustion.
The believer finds their rest, peace, assurance, identity, hope, and fullness in God. From that position of rest, we can move out into the world and work, perform, and produce.
God is inviting you today to mimic him in his rest as you find your rest in him. So pause. Be still before God. Jesus is gentle and lowly at heart. And in him, you will find the rest for your souls.