Resting

I like resting and I’m glad that God does, too.

We read in Genesis 2:2 that God rested after the six days of creation.  Was it because God was exhausted after his creative work?  I don’t think so.  I am sure that God has boundless energy just as his love is limitless.

So, why did he rest?  My guess is it had something to do with his pleasure in his creation.  In Genesis 1:31, the writer says that “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.”  He enjoyed what he had done and he took a day off just to revel in it.

There is a fair amount written about rest – physical and spiritual – in the Bible.  I want to focus in this post on spiritual rest which is something that is getting increasing attention in our modern world.

I love my afternoon nap – it’s easy to do.  But I find spiritual rest harder.

As I grow older, I am beginning to realize more and more that spiritual rest – rest in Jesus Christ – is important.

Like everything in my spiritual life, I have been slow in waking up to this truth.

Part of the reason is that I have found it hard to slow down and literally waste time with God (as one writer has put it).  Like many other Canadians, my mind is filled with a lot of things – some important, some trivial.  How can I afford to take an hour just to focus entirely on God without having an agenda?

Yet great believers over the ages have found that quiet times with God have been spiritually refreshing and uplifting.  These times with God have been essential in their growing closer to the Father.  They have had an influence on those around them and sometimes the wider world.

Moses and Joshua are good examples. In Exodus 33, we read that Moses would go out to the Tent of Meeting to “inquire of God” and he would stay a long time there.  And even after Moses returned, his young aide Joshua would stay there with the Lord.  Moses and Joshua were busy people – busy leaders – but they needed time with God.

In our world, we tend to think of quiet times as a period where we tell God about the things he has got to do for us.  Interestingly, those are not the words used in Exodus 33 – Moses “inquired of God”.  He asked God what God wanted him to do.

Asking God what he wants us to do takes time.  It means listening.  And sometimes it isn’t easy to understand what God is telling us.

A man I know spends an hour every morning sitting in his basement with a candle on the table and a Bible by his side and he listens.  Part of it is reading a portion of scripture and reflecting on it.  He may listen to a worship song.  And then he will sit in silence listening with every fibre of his body.  He says he often is aware of nothing and it is only during the day that a thought pops into his head that he knows is from God.  It only comes because he has spent the time resting before God.

Many people do this today.  And have done it over the ages.  My middle daughter used to take a day or so every few months away from her priestly duties to go on retreat and spend time alone with God.  Years ago, she gave me a birthday gift of a day at a nearby retreat house and introduced me to the wonders of a day of silence with God.  It was wonderfully refreshing and deepening.  I have done it a couple of times since – although not for some time now.

More often now than in the past, I do take time – usually not more than a half hour or so – to just spend quietly before God, focusing my mind on him and being aware that he is present.  I find it brings me peace – and sometimes even joy – when things are busy and I am a little harried.

It is good to enter his rest.

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