Forward Today: The subversive act of resting

A white hammock with a white blanket draped across it, hanging between two trees in front of a white house.
Photo by Steph Q on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

A few days ago, I preached about Jesus’ encounter with some critics on a sabbath day (Mark 2:23-3:6). These critics failed to see that mercy always wins. Jesus kept the sabbath, but he was willing to work on the appointed day of rest in order to do good.

What struck me as I was preparing for my sermon is how the commandment to honor the sabbath is rarely kept these days. Most of the time, we at least try to honor the rest of the ten commandments. We all agree that murdering is bad. Stealing is bad. Coveting is bad. And so on. But when it comes to the sabbath, it’s common to trample right over the commandment to rest.

Our culture tells us that our meaning and our salvation comes from productivity. We are what we accomplish. We delude ourselves into thinking we have “earned” this or that. We must go, go, go.

Taking a day to rest—to rest from our work, but also to rest in the glory of God’s presence— is positively countercultural. When we step out of the hamster wheel of productivity, we are saying that there are things more important than accomplishments. We are reminding ourselves that our meaning and our salvation does not come from shiny things, but from the Lord who made us.

For many people summer is a slower-paced time. If you are a person who rests regularly, I hope you’ll do it more. Let your light shine before others, and share with them what good comes to you from resting. And if you are a person who needs encouragement to rest, let me offer it here: rest.

Resting is good for us. Resting from our work reminds us that our meaning comes not from accomplishments. Resting is also healthy for our bodies; it is the way God made us to be. We are not made to stay busy every moment.

Rest might look different from person to person. Maybe it means sleeping in. Perhaps you’ll leave your phone out of reach and stay away from its seductive notifications. You might take a way to go for a walk to enjoy this beautiful world God has made. Prayer could be an important part of rest, not to accomplish a to-do but to delight in God.

So, from the bottom of my heart, I hope you have a day soon when you can honestly say to someone, I did nothing today except rest. And it was a gift.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Come pray, learn, and rest together: Register for our prayer retreat

Rest as part of a rule of life:  The Way of Love Practical Guide

Delight in prayer made easy and beautiful: Hour by Hour

Finding health in your spiritual life: Vital Signs of Faith