Right now, I am watching the display of color that nature is painting as spring erupts. Pale pink, white and rosy flowers of the flowering trees touch the skyline. Bright yellow flowers of the forsythia and daffodils dress the green grass. The air smells sweet and one can almost hear the plants singing to the glory of God as they show forth their beauty. Even the birds sense the season and awaken us with singing in the morning. The writer of Song of Solomon says it well. The "lover" is so excited about what is being birthed that he must share it with his beloved. "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of the doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance..." (Song of Solomon 2:10-13)
As I look at God's spring display of beauty, I remember that His cycle of life has rest built into it through the season of winter. The quiet of winter allows the plants to rest so that they will be able to produce an abundance of flowers and eventually fruit. The quality of the flowers and fruit is directly related to the quality of the rest. Here we have a principle for our own lives. God wants us to establish patterns of rest in our lives. Rest will give us strength and peace and will make us fruitful so that we can live our lives in the fullness of everything He has for us. At creation, God established the cycle of life with rest built into it. "By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work, and God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating what He had done." (Genesis 2:2-3)
Not only did God rest, but He declared that all of creation should rest also. He established cycles of rest: every 7 days, several times during the 7th month, and every 7 years. Even the land had to rest. Here is what God said to Moses: "When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the 7th year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of it or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest." (Leviticus 25:2-5)
We can see the seriousness of God's intention for rest through what happened to the Israelites. They did not follow the command of God to let the land rest every seven years. In fact, they disobeyed this command for 490 years—70 land rests. As a result, they were taken to Babylon for 70 years. "This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon 70 years." (Jeremiah 25:11) As the Israelites were in captivity the land rested for 70 years. "The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the 70 years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah." (2 Chronicles 36:21)
God designed us to have rest; we cannot prosper without it. We must follow God's example of rest in creation. We must enter His ordained cycle of life which includes rest. Teacher and prophet, Graham Cooke, says we must choose to partner with rest. He also says this: "God will always bless your rest. Practice rest and you will feel the presence of God more strongly."
Moses recognized how difficult it would be to lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land and asked God to teach him His ways. "The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" (Exodus 33:14) Let us follow the example of Moses and ask God's help in teaching us how to rest. Some other thoughts I have on resting include the need for us to be intentional about setting aside time to wait on the Lord. (Isaiah 40:31) We must worship Him and meditate on His Word. (Psalm 119:15) We must allow the Lord to guide us in what to pick up and what to lay down. (Matthew 11:29) As we remember His faithfulness, rest will come naturally. (Psalm 116:6) I like the way The Message conveys this Psalm. "...I said to myself, 'Relax and rest. God has showered you with His blessings.'" As we rest, the Lord will bless us, and we will become more aware of His Presence.
Joan E. Mathias