I thought that would be a great title for a Labor Day devotional. Does rest come naturally to you? I don't know about you, but I definitely have to labor to rest. I also have to ward off criticism and misunderstanding from others to meet my body’s need for rest. But when I open God’s Word I am validated in my need for rest, in fact, I'm encouraged to work at maintaining rest in my life.
We all know that God rested on the seventh day of creation and then establisheda day of rest, which the Pharisees took to the extreme, for the nation of Israel.If you think it ends there, you need to open your Bible to Hebrews 4. Verses9-11 say; There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; foranyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as Goddid from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so thatno one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
The labor God speaks about here is not the labor that comes to mind on LaborDay. It is not our daily work either at a job or around our house. God is talkingabout resting from the spiritual work that was completed for us through JesusChrist. We can enter God’s rest when we lay down our own efforts to claimthat we are good enough to enter heaven and accept Jesus Christ’s righteousnessas our only hope for reconciliation with God.
Why does it take labor to rest? I find that it requires labor to rest physicallyand even more to enter the rest that is spoken about in Hebrews—spiritualrest. People in my life don't expect me to rest until the job is done and eventhen they often have another task waiting for me. I have to fight the norms ofan overachieving society to make room for rest in my life. It’s not smiledupon to take care of yourself and your body through rest. The closest instancewe have is Labor Day, and that’s a day that most of us spend working atleisure, rather and true, honest, genuine rest.
If I have a hard time convincing myself to labor about rest in dealing with thedemands of the physical labor I'm involved in; it is even more difficult to laborto rest spiritually. God has been trying to reach me for years about the spiritualrest He offers me. I can say that I have made some noticeable progress in thelast ten years. Ten years ago my journals were filled with the musings of anoverwhelmed woman. Today I have even more to do in my life, but do less whiningand complaining. You see I've learned part of the lesson on rest. I've learnedto rest in God for the work that He wants to do through me. Even writing thisarticle right now is an experience of resting in Him to give me the words towrite. But I have some ways to go. I have to work or labor to rest in the realitythat God is present in every moment of my life. I have to labor to rest in thethought that He knows how to deal with every concern of my day. I have to laborto rest in God because my natural tendency is to do it myself—even my spiritualgrowth.
I hope you enjoy a special rest from your labor on Labor Day. I also encourageyou to find the freedom and power of spiritual rest every day.