If I could take an interactive survey or ask for a show-of-hands here, my question would be:
“Is there anyone else who has ever been perplexed by the fact that God rested on the 7th day?”
I mean, we can all agree that the God of Creation didn’t have to take a break, right?
You see, for a good majority of my life, I have struggled with the concept of intentionally relaxing and being still. (see here)
However, in 2010 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, Multiple Sclerosis. It is neurological in nature and its name makes reference to the “many scars” present on the neurons in some parts of my brain and along some of the nerve tracts of my spinal cord. The scars are a result of the occurrence of inflammation in those areas at one time or another.
On the exterior and from the outside this is not too obvious. I am grateful for this fact.
I consider myself on the lesser end of the spectrum of this disease, which has four forms – mine being the Relapse-Remitting kind. While I am keenly aware daily, whether it be due to a difficulty in formulating words, experiencing the sensation of numbness in certain patches, insurmountable fatigue or trying to maintain my balance while standing or walking, the residual effects of the disease don’t often interfere too much with my everyday living… Until … I am faced with some major neurological inflammation and, what is termed, an exacerbation, aka a flare.
In the eight years that I have been living with MS, I’ve had several flares with a range of more-than-just-a-nuisance symptoms. But in the Summer of 2014, I had my most memorable and functionally limiting one to date.
As per usual for my family that summer was the fact that my two older children were away with my family in my birthplace, Jamaica. My husband was travelling and I was with our youngest twin daughters at home. It was well past midnight on the eve of their fourth birthday, and I was sitting on our living room floor, wrench in hand, small metal parts strewn all around me, doing my best to assemble two pink and sparkly tricycles. In that moment, and for days leading up to it, I was also ignoring the fact that the auditory nerve on my left side was inflamed and causing severe vertigo. The kind of room-spinning madness that has you vomitting, bedridden and unable to look after your loved ones for way too long for my liking.
Family and friends quickly came alongside to care for me and lighten our load. One particular old friend not only answered the middle-of-the-night phone call for help and showed up immediately, but she also came over the following weeks to bring us nourishing meals, to sit with me and to counsel me with her wise words. On one of those visits she spoke a truth to me that I could hardly believe hadn’t ever before penetrated my biological-sciences-minded brain as yet.
“You know Trudi,” she said in her gentle and sagacious tone, “rest is essential. Just like food, water and love, we need rest to survive.”
Rest is Essential.
Like, as in – you need it not only to stay alive, but also to thrive.
Not, Rest is Optional – as in, it is for when its most convenient, or when you can indulge in the luxury of it or when you’ve exhausted yourself beyond any other choice.
The above conditions obviously do not apply to the God of the Universe, whom didn’t opt to “press pause” because He was depleted. I do not read Genesis 2:2 as “God was sooooo tired that on the 7th day he needed to rest.”
Knowing that in our humanness we would strive, toil and wear ourselves out, God chose to rest on the 7th day - giving us both permission and instruction to do just that. No doubt it was for our physical restoration and benefit, but too, so that we might enjoy the work of our hands, recognize His Glory in all of it and take that time to strengthen our spiritual bonds with our Father in Heaven.
Jesus on Earth often stressed the importance of this practice and modeled it to his disciples then, and us today. (Mark 6:31; Matthew 11:28 ) As we follow his lead and his life, we are called to engage in this discipline regularly as well.
I know personally the things that usually keep me from seeking rest are rooted in a Self-Reliance rather than a Faithful Assurance. My belief that I can control or figure out outcomes, that my worth is tied to any proof of my productivity, and/or my guilt over desiring or needing stillness, will elevate my ego above His power and His plan every day if not checked.
In learning to manage my disease I have identified how electrical in nature my flares typically are. Often my system needs a full-on, shutdown and plugged-in recharge if it’s going to operate at its highest capacity. Not only have I had to submit to the awareness that my body and brain require a cease-of-activity and intentionally build-in rest as a preventative measure, but I’ve also had to become attuned to the internal signals my body sends when I’m in need of it the most.
It isn’t laze when we fold our hands to honor a Sabbath and commune with God . It is reverence. This sacred practice reminds us where our trust, worth and hope lie. This practice brings a rhythm for balance into our lives.
There is godly wisdom in silence and heavenely productivity in unbusyness.
So work hard with your “hands” friends.
Find stillness, intently, in your bones.
Then fully, and unapologetically, enjoy your rest.