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The Practice of Rest

In my early twenties, I cooked at several restaurants on St. Simons Island, GA. I would sometimes work double shifts in order to make ends meet. On one occasion, I worked three weeks of double shifts without a day off. Resilient though I thought myself to be at that age, I almost put myself in the hospital.

Most will admit, there is something built into the fabric of our being to remind us of our need for rest. We are image-bearers of God, called to emulate the pattern He established for us at creation: to live within a rhythm of work and rest. He set aside the Sabbath day for our bodies to be refreshed and renewed. The rest our bodies require reminds us that we need spiritual rest as well. And so the Sabbath is a time to remember our limits.

The Sabbath teaches us that we need God and the rest He freely provides in Jesus. It almost seems as though Jesus reserved many of His healing miracles for the Sabbath. And by healing physical maladies on the holy day of rest, He was showing that He had the power to heal the deeper malady of a sinful soul.

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). He is the one who rested in the grave on the old covenant Sabbath—after He labored for our redemption, providing ultimate rest through His atoning death and resurrection. He ushered in a new creation, saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29). And to those who attempted to pervert the meaning of the Sabbath day with legalistic rules and regulations, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

Coming expectantly into the first day of the week, I often wake my sons up and ask them, “What day is it today?” One of them inevitably shouts from under his covers, “The best day of the week!” Our family worships at church and sets the whole day aside to rest. Together, we read Scripture, devotionals, or other spiritually edifying books, and allow time and space in our home for Christian fellowship. We may even take a much-needed nap.

These are a few of the ways our family has learned to keep the Sabbath, setting aside a day to focus on worship, the Word, prayers, and fellowship. Whatever practices you can build into the rhythms of work and rest in your life, for the physical and spiritual refreshment of your body and soul, make them staples of your devotion to God on a weekly basis. He knows the benefit and blessing of rest, and that is why He asks us to keep the Sabbath.

*This devotional was first published at He Reads Truth