Here in the United States, today is Labor Day. The idea is that we celebrate workers (laborers) by taking a day off – a day of rest is the intention. But most of the time, we fill this day with either partying and socializing, or with getting a bunch of chores done around the house. It’s not very restful. The thing is, even if you take the day and do “nothing”, you might not feel rested. Instead, you might be plagued by the thought of all the things you could have done, or should have done. You might even spend part of the day in dread of the following workday, knowing that not only will you have to work again, but you might even have more work to make up for the time off. (I took a day off last Wednesday, and then spent all of Thursday just handling all the stuff in my inbox! Not even working on the things I needed to work on!)
Sometimes, we make getting rest into a project of it’s own. We plan a relaxing vacation, or schedule a day at the spa – things we end up paying for by – you guessed it – working. And sure, those things are good to do, and they feel good in the moment. But they while they may rest your body, your soul may not feel at rest. You may still be worrying about all the things yet to be done, or about your finances or your health or your family or your future. No amount of sitting under a palm tree will provide rest for your soul.
So, how can we find rest for our soul? The Bible says we find rest by coming to God.
Exodus 33:14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
These don’t say “lay around and thank God for quiet time”. They say to walk in His ways, to take up His labor. They require action! Now, I know what you’re going say: “But what about ‘be still and know’?“. Guess what? Those verses require more than lazing around! If you read Psalm 37 in it’s entirety, the context is about living God’s way – committing yourself to the Lord and living righteously. And Psalm 46 calls us to behold the works of the Lord.
Psalm 37:6-8 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Psalm 46:10Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
This kind of being still is one of focusing on God, not scurrying down this path then that path, but staying in His will and following His way. This is the rest for our souls: to focus on God and live in His will. So I want to challenge you today, even if you aren’t in the US or do not have a day off work, to take some time to find rest for your soul. Focus on God’s by reading His word, praying, and living according to His will.