I’m getting ready to go on vacation, so I thought I’d do a series of posts beforehand about the benefits of sabbathing (well, resting).
All of us need regular time off–at least one day a week, as well as regular extended time off (like our two weeks of vacation, or whatever our employer allows us). Here are some benefits of regular sabbathing…
- It rejuvinates the body. Regular time off from work, whether our job is more physical or more mental in nature, re-energizes us physically. It restores energy expended during the week. Some of us are “weekend warriors”. We expend as much energy during our time off as we do on the job. Sometimes that’s good. But we also need times of actual rest, where we’re not stressing our bodies out 24/7. So if you’ve been spending the last six weekends reroofing your house, laying down new floor, helping your buddy fix his truck, and running marathons, take this next weekend to chill out. You don’t have to veg on the couch, but don’t think you have to go, go, go all the time. We weren’t wired to do that.
- It refreshes your mind and stabilizes your emotions. My line of work can be incredibly mentally taxing. A brain that is exhausted can leave the body exhausted. Some of us work jobs that require repetitive action, which can dull the brain during the day. My wife’s job as a nurse is both physically and mentally demanding (and she’s ready and so deserving of a week at the beach). Regular time away from the job and pursuing times of rest can let the mind rest and the emotions sort themselves out. Regular times of rest can decompress, defragment, and re-energizing us.
These are great benefits of regular rest. But there is one that is more important–the spiritual benefit. Look at what the Bible says in Isaiah 58:13-14 about the Sabbath,
If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Regular rest isn’t just about rejuvinating our body, mind, and emotions. It’s about refocusing us on God. Rest should remind us that we are not invincible, that our bodies, minds, and emotions do have limits, and that we must depend upon God for our provision. As we do this, we find that we really do delight in the Lord.
Every year at the beach, I spend several evenings just taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the surf. There is nothing more beautiful in nature than the beach at night with the moon rising. I spend a few moments just thanking God for the beauty, for the relaxation, for the time off, for my family, and for Jesus. I really do delight in Him in those moments. I’m still working on doing this on my regular day off during the week (most of the time, I tend to let my focus on God get fuzzy).
That’s the main benefit of rest: refocus on and delight in God. If you haven’t done so lately, then take a vacation day or two, get away, and go delight in God. Resting helps us realize our utter dependence on Him. If we don’t do it, then (like ancient Israel, who failed to keep the Sabbath day for decades), He may just impose a Sabbath on us…
Tomorrow, we’ll look at Jesus’ regular habbit of sabbathing…