How many things do you think we could disagree on? We all have thoughts and ideals related to faith, politics, raising children, work, health and so on. Most of us, thankfully, aren’t riled up by every point of disagreement. Although, my belief is there is a market set out to help us be.
For everything we could disagree on, we also know there is much we do affirm together. Take sabbath, for example. It’s one of the areas Christians throughout generations have consistent thoughts about. Yes, of course, there are various ideas about specific practices. By and large, however, Christians know sabbath.
Now, do we take God up on the promise of rest enough? Do we misunderstand what a day of rest is? Indeed, we could use a refresher course.
To better understand sabbath, let’s start with one word closely associated with it. Rest. For most of us, Sunday is a day of rest. At least, in name. But does that mean we’re supposed to sleep all day? Are Sundays made for nothing but lounging around?
The reality is you could sleep every second of a Sunday and still not rest, right? You could wake up and still feel restless.
So, rest, then, means more than sleeping. In fact, it’s possible to skip that great Sunday nap and be a rest with God.
And there it is. That is what sabbath is for. To learn to rest, to trust more in God. We often affirm together our conviction about God’s presence. God is with us! When we’re feeling anxious about the day’s work ahead of us, we’re grateful for God’s presence. As we walk through the fire, God’s presence, we know, gives us strength and power.
But leaning on God’s presence only when we need something runs the risk of making God more our mascot than our Lord.
Moses is a great figure of faith. We see him as the great prophet and leader of God’s people. For as much as he did to lead faithfully, he often struggled. There are moments he felt unprepared, unequipped and unworthy. In Exodus 33, God tells Moses an angel will go with him and his people to the promised land.
But that wasn’t their hope. They wanted God. So, God assures Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
Is that rest from a desert wandering? Rest from battle? Rest from uncertainty? To all three, I say yes. But remember where they are going. To a land flowing with milk and honey. Even there in the place of security and promise, God’s presence will be rest.
Learning to rest in God, then, is not merely resting your eyes on a Sunday afternoon. It’s finding ways to acknowledge and stand in awe of God’s presence with you. Can we agree we could use more of that?