Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his. Let us, then, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11
The other night, I couldn’t sleep. It was the third night in a row that the neighbor’s dog decided that 3am was a good time for everyone to wake up. The night previous to this he barked for four hours straight…FOUR HOURS! So, that third night, as it was 3:30am, I walked out to my backyard and screamed out, “SHUT UP!! IT IS 3:30 IN THE MORNING!” Did that work? No. The dog kept barking. So, I did it again, “SHUT UP!! STOP BARKING! IT IS 3:30 IN THE MORNING!” This time, he stopped. I walked into the house victorious in my endeavor and laid down again. Not much time later, you want to know what I heard?? “WOOF! WOOF-WOOF!! WOOF-WOOF-WOOF-WOOF!!!” Needless to say, I got up. It was only 4:30am and God made coffee for a reason, and I realized – I am not the Dog-whisperer
I made my choice that night to fight for sleep. I hadn’t had much and so it was necessary to do something, only to find out that I cannot do much. A dog is a dog. He will bark at odd hours and they don’t wear watches in order to know that it is bedtime. You would hope their owner might be aware, but it is possible that they are completely out of their depth. Regardless of my intents, or the dog’s desire to wake the world, rest is something that alludes us more than it remains constant. I can’t keep track of the amount of people I talk to who tell me they are tired. There are not enough hours in the day to do all that seems necessary to do, and not enough hours to recuperate from our falling short of getting all those things done. You would think we would realize by now that life is full of “doing’s”. Every day has a “doing” attached to it – lists and tasks that need to be completed because life exists, jobs exist, bosses exist, cars exist, houses exist, children exist, parents exist, sin exists.
That is where church comes in. God is the God of rest and refuge. He is the God who gave us the Sabbath before He ever gave us the ten commandments, “On the 7th day God…rested…[and] blessed the day and declared it holy….” He pushed for the Israelites to hold onto that commandment above all else because rest and refuge are completely attached to who God is for us. A God who does not come and take but one who gives to us and who grants to us rest. He graces us with a faith that revolves around a time to find refuge in Him, to set aside the “doing’s” and be found in Him for just a moment. To hear His Word preached to us, to be served by Him at His Table. He ultimately gave us Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, in whom the Word and Table find their meaning, in order that we might lay our burdens down, get rid of our lists for a time, and rest from them and rest in Him.
Of all the commandments, though, the Sabbath, the rest of God, is the one commandment that Israel broke all the time. We do it, too, every day. It is much easier to do rather than be. It is a lot easier to work to see results, to feel accomplished, and move onto the next task. But for our life in God, we are called to trust that He is our Lord, He is our God, He is the One who calls to us, “Come and rest with Me a while. Lay your burdens down. Come to Me and find rest for your souls. Throw out the need to do so much, to serve so much, to run here and there. Come rest with Me a while and be My child for a moment.”
If your life is so harried that church, the place of refuge where we hear God as He speaks to us and we have a moment to settle our minds and thoughts and be reminded that God is God and we are not, something will give eventually. We will burn out or drop dead. That one project we are working on does not define us and should not be allowed to rule over us. That difficulty at home is a battle for which God is most suited. He will bring the rest to you. He will be your refuge. He will take all your burdens, your baggage, your worries, your hardships, and give them to Christ to kill on the cross, so that you might arise anew each day in the truth of His Word. For He is our only hope for this body and life. Believe that, Church. Besides, there is a reason why we call the room in which we gather “The Sanctuary”, that is what God is for you. May it be so.