Rest has an important role
Rest can be a funny thing. It seems more like a gap – an absence of doing something – but whether or not you’ve had a rest can have a significant impact on the rest of your life. Maybe it’s true that God is in the gaps.
When you read some of the ancient saints, rest takes on a more important role because it becomes a kind of a version of heaven.
St Augustine writes, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee”, in his Confessions. But rest, in the Hebrew, has a much grander sense than we often allow for. Shalom – which is often translated ‘peace’ – has a holistic sense of being at rest in contented fulfilment. Rest and peace go hand in hand with heaven.
We can’t “run on empty”
And this is something that many of us intuitively grasp. We’re well aware that we can’t keep ‘running on empty’, because it’s not good for us or the people around us. Rest, then, is vital to living as a human being.
It’s strange that gaps should be so crucial to life. We often think of people as defined by their activity – I’m a builder, dancer, preacher and so on.
This doesn’t leave us much room to sing the praises of gaps. But if we look at music, maybe there’s a better parallel there. In music, the rests are as vital as the notes. If you miss the rests, you ruin the music. The rests dictate the rhythm and structure. Resting is vital because we’re supposed to live in harmony with the universe, and learning to work with that rhythm requires rest.
The Jewish day started with rest
It’s not surprising then, that the Maker goes to such great pains to impress upon us the need for rest. Not only does he set the right example by ceasing his labour on the seventh day, but he also institutes the Sabbath. The Sabbath is more of a mindset than a Jewish rule, though, and this mentality is reflected in the way that they ordered every day. The Jewish day starts in the evening (and there was evening and there was morning, the first day), and this means that you start each day with rest.
The first thing you do in the day is relinquish control of your world to God as you shut your eyes and go to sleep. In resting, you orientate yourself into dependence upon God’s grace.
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