Work six days only; the seventh day is a day of solemn rest, a holy day to be used to worship Jehovah… don’t even light the fires in your homes that day. (Exodus 35:2)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Neil Carlson, a high school English teacher, has a son attending his school who is a cross country runner. Neil attends all of his son’s races. Over 150 young men usually line up at the starting line. The starting gun is fired and for the first few minutes the sprint is on. Most of the runners start with a manic mad dash to get their desired position in the massive pack. Two to three minutes into the three mile race, the runners relax and fall into their desired paces. Each morning when Neil gets to school to start his academic race, he closes the door and spends five to ten minutes of quiet time simply speaking to and listening to the Lord. One morning while praying, after another late night grading papers, Neil saw in his spirit, many exhausted educators who had been professionally sprinting, part of a mad dash since the start of school. Neil heard a quiet whisper of God saying to him and the faculty at his school, “Rest and find your pace.”
Each school year is an academic cross country race. More accurately, it is an academic marathon. If we don’t start resting in a disciplined manner and pacing ourselves then we are going to get burned out and not have the best race possible. In the old Mosaic law, God instructed the farmers to take every seventh year off to let the land rest. He instructed them not to sow their fields and not to prune their vineyards. He told them that whatever the land yielded during that year was to be the food for them and their animals. Wow! How much courage and faith would that take? How much of a true partnership with and belief in God would that involve?
One of the Ten Commandments is to take a day of rest each week to worship God. The Israelites were instructed not to light fires in their homes or harvest in their fields on this day of rest.
Jesus told his disciples to come to him and he would give them rest. When his disciples were so busy that they were omitting meals he told them to come with him alone to a quiet place and get some rest. (Mark 6:31)
God mandates and encourages naps! Wow! Just like kindergarten! Have we been missing our naps and our days and seasons of rest? Do we trust God enough, do we have enough faith to let go of our agendas and start following His, to get into that steady productive rhythm of running and resting instead of running and running? It takes courage to set our agendas aside to follow God’s. Do we have the courage to rest as God asks?
One of Neil’s coworkers seemed to be physically ill quite often. He knew she was a believer and often prayed with her at the faculty share, care, and prayer group once a week. As prompted by the Holy Spirit, one day Neil asked her, “Do you ever rest? Do you ever take a REAL Sabbath day of rest?” She assured Neil she did so he asked her what an average Sunday was like for her. This was her Sabbath agenda: 1) prepare for and teach Sunday school, 2) attend a worship service, 3) prepare and serve lunch for her family, 4) do several loads of laundry, 5) take a two hour nap, 6) prepare and serve supper, and 7) go back to church and attend the one to two hour evening church service.
Neil was exhausted after she got done explaining it to him. Her “day” of rest was actually “two hours” of rest. What does your Sabbath day of rest look like? What agendas do you have that are more important than God’s instructions to rest? We are made in the image of God and the Bible tells us He rested. Where is our rest? We need the courage to start resting. We must set our jobs, families, selves, and the world down. We must turn off our computers and TVs. We must stop constantly carrying so much. It’s alright to carry things but not all the time!
God wants us to rest in his arms. He wants to take our empty hands and dance with us. He can’t grab our hands to lead us if we are constantly carrying something. We must let go and let him lead. God has not given us enough time to fulfill His agenda, our agenda, and the world’s agenda at school. We cannot live three lives at the same time. Watch what God will do when we let him lead. As educators, we have all spent time waiting for obedience from strong-willed, self-willed students who have their own personal agendas. God is now patiently waiting for us.
Prayer: Peace! Be still!
Application: Go DEAP daily. (Drop Everything And Pray) Take several minutes a day at work to stop everything and pray. At least once a week meet with coworkers at school and pray. Take a real Sabbath each week.
Sharing: Share your “rest” habits and what you do on the Sabbath.