For many, summer is a time to rest – it may be because you are taking a vacation, or perhaps you benefit from a slower pace at work (or elsewhere) because everyone else is taking vacation even if you are not. The summer is always a period of rest at Emmanuel with no classes or events, home groups on irregular schedules, and a simplified worship service. It is remarkable that God commands rest. You can see this perhaps most clearly in the 4th commandment where there is a command to take a Sabbath (one day of rest in seven).
What is interesting is that the 10 commandments are given twice in the Bible, and while they are otherwise the same, the rationale for rest changes. In Exodus 20:11, after the Hebrew people are taken out of the oppression of slavery and enter into life with God, they are to imitate God – they are told to take a day of rest because that is what God did when he made the heavens and earth (and in every way we should seek to do as God does). Yet as Moses is nearing his death and the Hebrew people are on the cusp of entering the promised land, Moses reminds the people of God’s commands. He recounts the 10 commandments, but this time he tells them the reason they are to keep the Sabbath is because they should remember that they were slaves (Deuteronomy 5:15).
For some of you, a vacation or some time away is proactive self care – you are simply taking the opportunities you can to enjoy yourself. Others of you desperately need a break – you feel on the verge of burnout (do the words “remember you were a slave” hit home?). Whether your own motivation is in line with following the pattern of God our creator who works and rests, or because you have tasted the exhaustion of work without rest, remember that rest is not in itself laziness, failure, or a waste of time. You don’t always need to get something done! If this summer doesn’t afford particular opportunities for rest (hello mothers of young children) seize the opportunities you can if they arise, even if they are brief. God blesses rest, so if rest is available to you, don’t feel guilty taking it. Receive it as a gift with thanks!