The backpacks are hung up for the year, the last school lunches have been made, and the uniforms are tucked away until fall. A year of hard work and diligent study will give way to the long, sweet days of summer, unencumbered by school bells and homework.
In our home, the kids have an extended school year at an urban charter school that runs through late June, so they are desperately waiting for that final bell to ring. As they experience the stress of final exams, they also feel anticipation and excitement for our upcoming trip to the beach. For them, the months of coming rest are the reward for their hard work.
I’m mindful that many areas of life follow this same pattern of work and rest. Rest only comes after we complete long stretches of grueling work if it comes at all. But this is the opposite of the kind of rest God offers us.
True Rest Is a Gift
The world’s formula—work, productivity, and exhaustion before rest—simply doesn’t hold in God’s kingdom. Gospel rest is not working until you collapse before receiving the benefits of grace. The rest that comes through faith is a gift from God.
A gift! By definition, a gift is not something we earn. It’s not our own doing but pure grace (Eph. 2:8). We receive all the benefits of God’s rest with no work of our own required. The world's formula—work, productivity, and exhaustion before rest—simply doesn't hold in God's kingdom. Click To Tweet
Jesus, the person of Christ, is our true rest. He has set us free from the penalty of sin (Rom. 8:2). Through his death and resurrection, we are made alive with him and saved by grace (Eph. 2:5). Freedom is ours. Our former self was crucified with Christ, and now we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom. 6:6). As redeemed ones, sealed with the Spirit (Eph. 1:13), we now have the power to live as God intended. We struggle in this “now/not yet” reality until all things are made new (Rev. 21:5), but liberation has come. Our future is secure.
True Rest Is Secure
Our faith allows us to have peace in our souls as beloved sons and daughters of the king. We become a people of rest through God’s presence, by his Spirit. Through our unhindered relationship with him, we can live from a place of quiet stillness, confident that we belong to the Creator of the universe, who is our tender Father. We don’t need to strive to prove our worth, earn our keep, or demonstrate our value. Our worth and value are secure in Christ, and that can’t be shaken. So we can live from a place of fullness.
But do we live like this is true? This declaration is easier said than lived out in the trenches of life. We must keep returning to the simplicity of the gospel message and asking ourselves, once again, am I living from a place of rest, or am I trying to earn it?
True Rest Is Remembering
The law’s command to keep the Sabbath is an invitation to remember (Ex. 20:8–10). This set-apart day interrupts the flow of our lives. It forces us to turn to God, ordering our lives under his ways. Rest is for stopping, being still, and knowing that he is God (Ps. 46:10). The slowing down of summer is a welcome time to break our routine with extended rest. It can give us a chance to consider our daily rhythms and patterns. Click To Tweet
As ministers of the gospel, this can get tricky. The Sabbath is often the most demanding day of the week for pastors and servants in the church. This is why the slowing down of summer is a welcome time to break our routine with extended rest. It can give us a chance to consider our daily rhythms and patterns.
Just as our children lay down their schoolwork for the year, set aside some of your usual demands and find time to consider these questions:
- What is the foundation from which you live? Do you work to rest or live from a place of rest so that you can work?
- What story does your calendar tell of how you order your days, weeks, and months toward rest?
- Do you have a set-apart day to follow God’s command to rest? What worries or concerns emerge as you approach that time?
- What are some possible impacts of not resting? Where have you experienced this in your life?
- As a leader, where are you creating space for those in your care to develop rhythms of rest in their lives? Do you work to rest or live from a place of rest so that you can work? Click To Tweet
To know God is to receive him and the immensity of his love. He never ceases to meet us when we turn to him. As we orient our calendar toward him, the disposition of our heart shifts, and the Spirit is faithful to refuel us. In that space, the deeper work of confession, repentance, and belief can happen and we can once again taste the sweet reality of forgiveness.
In this place of rest, we can join with David and declare, “in your presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). May this summer be an opportunity for rest—true rest, because of Jesus.