Rising With Refreshment: Heeding God’s Call to Rest, Remember, and Celebrate
I just spent an entire week with my extended family— my dad, my brothers, their wives and all of our kids. The 17 of us rented a big house on a lake and simply “hung out” with each other. We ate good food, drank yummy drinks, joked around, played board games, chased each other all over the lawn, swam, and enjoyed one another’s company. This is unprecedented, for the record. We have never ever spent an entire week together to “just hang out.” We all live between 4-10 hours away from each other and are rarely able to spend more than a few days at a time with one another. And never have all 17 of us been together at the same time for more than a handful of hours. It was so much fun to simply spend unstructured time together, let everyone relax and bond with each other, and make memories together.
Sometimes that’s all a soul needs: Refreshment. Rest. Room to breathe. And reasons to laugh.
Long ago, way back at the dawn of creation, in fact, God alluded to this necessary habit of taking time out of our work and our “normal” to simply relax and find soul refreshment.
“On the seventh day, God finished his work that he had done, and he rested…” Genesis 2:2
And again in the famous Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses during the ancient times, Commandment Number Four is “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8
And again, as God gave the recently freed Israelites instructions on how to live their lives and how to treat one another, He declared that every seventh year ought to be a time to let the land rest: “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but in the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow…” Exodus 23:10
Furthermore, He declared every 50th year to be “the year of Jubilee”— a time when all debts are forgiven, families are reunited, and all farming land is given a break from having to grow things (Leviticus 25:10-12).
Clearly, cycles of work and then rest are part of how He intended His people to live.
But just so you don’t start thinking all God wants is for us to work hard and then rest with brainless boredom, check this out: in those early days of the newly-freed Israelites, God instituted several feasts and times of remembrance and celebration throughout the year. So a few times every Spring and early summer, and then again a few times in the Fall, the Israelites are instructed to cease work and celebrate something. One feast celebrates when God spared the Hebrews’ lives at Passover, another celebrates the first fruits of the harvest. Another feast commemorates when God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai, while another recalls the 40 years wherein the Israelites lived in tents in the desert after being liberated from Pharaoh’s rule. And yet another occasion on which His kids are called to gather together in holy celebration is during the Jewish New Year.
God is not opposed to His kids “letting loose” and having a little fun. He is not resistant to us taking time to rest from our work and allowing Him to fill in the gaps where things are lacking. As a matter of fact, He mandates it all. He knows that our frail human bodies can only go so long in a nonstop, pedal-to-the-metal fashion. He knows that each night our bodies need good quality rest in order to heal up and rejuvenate us for another day. He knows that a weekly time of extended rest is necessary. And He knows that, even with consistent sleep and a weekly dose of Sabbath rest, we still need celebrations and feasts and gatherings to look forward to and to help remind us about the big picture of our lives and His plans and provision for us. He even knows that every handful of years, we need to hit the “Jubilee reset button” and let ourselves and our land and our relationships reset in a whole different way.
Rest. Remembrance. Celebration. Refreshment. This is what God desires for us.
Have you felt tired or worn out lately? Have you wondered when the madness will ever stop so that you can finally just take some time to breathe? Have you felt heart-heavy and like there’s so much work to be done— yet you fear that everything will start falling apart if you dare to stop and rest a moment?
Yeah, me too.
But I’m trying to rest anyway. I’m trying to trust that God put these rhythms in place for a good purpose and, although I’m still not sure how to work it all out in this 21st-century life I’m living, I’m keeping it on my radar.
Let me assure you: I haven’t mastered it by any means. But I am doing my darnedest to habitually pause and remember what God has done in my life and in the lives of His kids since the dawn of creation. I’m trying to put aside the serious, let’s-get-deep-and-solve-the-world’s-problems conversations from time to time and just be silly and laugh and play games with the people I love. I’m trying to reconnect with my husband and kids and extended family and friends and remember how delightful they all are.
And I’m trying to take breaths of fresh air and to set aside times to do all of the above so that I can gain the soul-restoration that those types of activities (or lack thereof) offer me.
But I’m a work in process, just like you.
And this week, as I lounged around the lake with my loved ones, I got a taste of how refreshing it really can feel to genuinely disengage from my normal routine and escape for a while to simply enjoy myself, enjoy my God, and enjoy my loved ones.
[[This is Part Three of a (probably) 5-part series stemming from several things God has been teaching me over the past few months. Stay tuned for Part 4.]]
* * *
What about you?
What do you do to rest, remember, and celebrate on a regular basis? What activities, places, or people help you feel refreshed or restored? What do you need to do this week to reconnect with God and let Him minister refreshment to your soul?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.