Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 1, 2013

His seventh day example

Last Thursday I started this article at thirty-thousand feet.  I was on my way home and very tired.  Rest sounded good, and I was craving some spiritual, physical and emotional refreshment.  On that plane, and through some personal reading in the book of Leviticus, I had begun to wrestle with the concept of Sabbath-rest.  Then when I started to write an article for last Sunday, there was more unsettledness.  On the concept of real Sabbath-rest, I feel like a first grader when I should have a graduate degree.  I came to Christ at a young age, have studied the Bible for over fifty years and have been trained on spiritual issues virtually my whole life.  I have also taught the Bible and currently write articles of encouragement from a Biblical perspective.  So why am I having those first grade feelings?

On the seventh day of creation, God rested!  By the way, He also included the Sabbath day in the Ten –Commandments.  And as I mentioned, Leviticus spoke of Sabbath-rest.  Exodus 31:17 gives clarity on the subject for the children of IsraelIt is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.  Without a doubt, I believe that this principle can be applied for us today.  The question is, do we really value a Sabbath-rest?  We can all use the excuse of our circumstances, the demands placed upon us and a myriad of other well thought out reasons.  But when the God of Creation chose to rest, it was by design.  Certainly His work was completed, but there was more in my opinion. Could anyone deny that He was establishing a pattern for us to live by – an example to rest and be refreshed?

Why do I struggle so much with just accepting God’s pattern and really creating a Sabbath-rest principle for my life?  I am also convinced that it is not just me … I don’t know many who have taken God’s seventh day principle to heart.  Interestingly enough, four times this year I have sat with very spiritual pastors who are obviously having some of the same struggles that I have admitted.  They may have passed first grade, but not far beyond.  I am sure that any one of these pastors would admit that Sabbath-rest is more of an illusion than a reality for them.  It is my conclusion that really gaining insight into God’s Sabbath Day design is not something that most Christ followers have considered.  We instead are determined to be overworked, anxiety-filled and un-refreshed most of the time.  Even my first grade understanding tells me there must be a better way.

Since I am obviously not an expert on this issue, I have chosen to give you counsel from a well know source, Charles Swindoll.  Take note of these words from his book, Day by Day.

Here are five searching questions only you can answer:

  • Do you deliberately and regularly take time each week to rest?
  • When you’re taking time to relax, do you mentally release yourself from your responsibilities?
  • Are you strong enough to say no to things that would result in your falling into the trap of over-commitment?
  • Have you begun to cultivate hobbies that relieve your stress and free you to be creative?
  • After you have rested and gotten recharged, do you return to your responsibilities without any guilt for having taken time off?

Without a doubt, we all need spiritual refreshment along with physical and emotional rest.  If we never choose to disengage, are we really helping ourselves?  My thoughts on this topic are really meant more to share my struggle, and challenge you to admit your need for a Sabbath Day. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is something rich for me to find in choosing to pattern my life after His seventh day example.  I may have a lot schooling yet to go, but the learning will be worth it. If you struggled with the questions above, maybe you should consider choosing a day of rest each week.


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