My family and I are enjoying some much needed vacation time away this week and are having a wonderful time. We have been enjoying our union with Christ and each other as a family, playing, swimming, eating, shopping, and resting. As I have been thinking and praying for God to teach me about several things this week, one of the things he’s shown me once again is the truth that my rest is found not from labor but in it.
I read a quote this week that communicates this succinctly. Seth Godin said, “Instead of living for your next vacation, maybe you should set up a life you don’t always want to escape from.”
That was for me. (Not because I have a life that I always want to escape from—I serve a great church—but because I often am guilty of not enjoying the journey along the way.) But I don’t think it was only for me. It might be for you too. I fear that what Seth says hits us hard because it’s exactly the way a lot of us live. We work hard, keep our heads down, endure trials, hold our breaths and just try to make it until our time of rest—whether it’s Friday, our yearly vacation, or retirement.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with rest. It is a God-given and gracious gift to have rest following fulfilling labor. This is why a day of rest (the Sabbath) was instituted. God knew that we need refreshment and recreation before getting back to work. But I fear that we have created too much of a separation so that we now no longer have joy in our labor but only look forward to the rest. We treat our weekends, vacations, and even retirement as our right to please ourselves because we’ve earned it through hard work. Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these (and they can be very refreshing opportunities for growth if used correctly), but I fear that we have twisted them into times of pleasure-seeking and serving self rather than submitting them to Christ to see how He would have us use them.
When we do this (use our times of rest for our own pleasure), we actually accomplish the exact opposite of what we want. We want rest, but in seeking rest through self-serving activities, we find more trouble and anxiety and our thirst for rest is not quenched. This is because for us, as believers in Christ, our rest is in Him. This is exactly what Jesus says.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:29)
Who would’ve thought that we actually find rest by taking a yoke and placing it around our necks? Jesus is calling us to connect our lives to His and sense His moving and leadership for us. He’s calling us to work with Him.
Jesus doesn’t say that when we are weary and heavy-laden we should take off from work and head for the beach. He doesn’t say that we should just skip church this weekend and head to the lake. He doesn’t even say that we should look past all the responsibilities we have that lie before us on Thursday in anticipation of Friday. He says that we should come to Him. The previous verse says this:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
Rest for believers is not found at a beach condo, mountain lodge, or cruise ship. It is found in Christ. Moreover, when we come to Him for rest, He tells us to hitch our lives up with His so we can sense His movements and gentle leading for us. Need a vacation? Find rest in Christ in the midst of your labor, and keep striving.