Water’s Edge has an unusual way of going about life! We believe Jesus practiced rhythms which helped him thrive, even though he worked and cared greater than any of us. The rhythm he chose to pattern his life around is a creative rhythm.
We could muse how God’s greatest work was the work of creating the earth, the sun, the moon, the worm, the animals, the trees and flowers, the birds, or the ocean. Think about each in it’s intricacies and delights! So, it might surprise you to also muse over this expansive work of God, the very nature of the order brought to those elements for existence, and how God established within it a rhythm, a pattern of life and life-giving. There was a rhythm to God’s very action.
It shouldn’t surprise us to find that rhythm at the heart of the way God created.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. – Genesis 2: 1-3, NIV
God’s rhythm obviously included hard work.
But it also included, purposefully and intentionally, holy rest.
“Holy rest” means to separate rest as a special time. That seventh day was different than all of those ferociously fruitful days before it.
How was it different? God did not create anything new. He dwelled in the creation he had made.
Was he tired? It doesn’t seem that he was tired, or at least there’s no remark about, “Phew, that WAS a lot of work and now I need to put my feet up; to rest a bit and catch my breath!”
It simply was a season to rest, because it was time for it. It was to create order within the life which God had just created.
As scientists investigate and discover more about cell biology, they find smaller and smaller pieces of matter which they didn’t know exist. And as they grow in their understanding of these particles, they can begin to describe intricate webs of energy within a cell. The cell doesn’t collapse on itself, despite the “empty” space within it. The smallest of activities within a cell give it life.
Rest is like that. A small activity which gives us life and sustenance.
So, we find Jesus – feasting with friends, walking along (or on, but that’s another story) the waterside, going off to the mountains to pray, taking a hike up a large mountain with 2 disciples, sleeping in a boat, hanging out in people’s homes, and playing with children. Jesus enjoyed life!
We don’t hear Jesus saying, “Oh, let’s not rest. Let’s keep producing!” We don’t hear him feeling guilty about just being in creation and with people! He rests well. He sees it as a natural part of rhythm and living.
Now, we have a problem because the only way we view rest, typically, is in one of two ways.
- We have to earn it – i.e. we have to have accomplished much, gotten very little sleep in order to accomplish much, and then we’ve earned the right to rest. In other words, rest is just another way of accomplishing something. It’s then all about accomplishment rather than about creation as God’s child and in rhythm with Him.
- We equate it with “vacation” time. Vacation to an American is all about the place you go, what you do when you’re there, and getting bragging rights about all the fun you had while there. It’s episodic rather than rhythmic. There’s very little sleep involved I might add, typically. Isn’t it funny that most of us need a rest from our vacation before going back to work? In other words, rest is a commodity of scarcity and we try to spend it in unnatural ways to procure for ourselves that rest and inner peace we long for? A holy rest is not the same as a vacation (vacate from normal life).
Having looked at what it is not, let’s turn to what it could look like.
The first point of rest was for Jesus to commune with God; and for God to commune with the creation. For me, it’s to stop all of the lists running through my head and to be in a state of mind where I can simply be and listen. I find this kind of rest requires pre-planning, i.e. it takes hours not minutes to be in that state of mind. Sometimes it means I have to change where I am to be in a receiving place. For example, I might need to walk along the water or take a chair to go sit by the water for an afternoon.
The second point about rest for Jesus is being with others. Whereas in America we can be self-aware or even self-ish with our time, Jesus spent his with other people around. He was available, fully alive to the live streaming around him. He was looking outwards, not simply inwards. He enjoyed a dinner, or a boat ride, with friends! Making a date with friends for dinner or a walk or a shared activity is restful – a holy rest, separate from the grind of life to hang with God together. I find it extremely FUN to begin that time with friends by prayer – Lord, be with us in our laughter; Lord, wash us in your fresh breeze as we enjoy the gift of each other.
As we rest, we have room for a well rounded life, a created life with lots of energy and spark – poured into our work and friends and family and community.