Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Your phone is blowing up. Your calendar is out of control. Your to-do list feels never-ending. Your mind won’t stop racing. And when you wake up in the morning, you’re immediately confronted with the subtle hum of anxiety that follows you throughout the day.
Sound familiar? Today, more than ever before, we are restless. I would argue there are three major factors contributing to the restlessness of today’s Christian. First, we (like the rest of the world) are spending so much time consuming entertainment, social media, apps, and games, that these good things that were meant to be life-giving have actually become life-sucking. Second, we aren’t taking the time to “enter [the Lord’s] gates with thanksgiving,” leading to discontent and a restless drive to achieve and accumulate more. And finally—and this is a particularly challenging struggle for ambitious professionals—we are failing to take the time to regularly remind ourselves of the gospel and how our identity in Christ frees us from the need to constantly do more.
It may sound overly simplistic, but if our problem is restlessness, then the solution must be resting from the sources of that restlessness. In order to find true rest and peace, we must regularly break from the relentless demands of this world and our work. We must make time to simply give thanks for what God has given us, rather than always striving for more. And we must temporarily exchange the things that drain us (email, smartphones, etc.) for the things that bring us life (friends, family, God’s Word, etc.).
Fortunately, the Bible has a model for this kind of rest: Sabbath. Now, up until a few years ago, Sabbath was a noun to me, not a verb. It was an ancient word for a day of the week, not something modern Christians actually practiced. For a long time, Sabbath sounded more like a legalistic chore to me than a gracious gift that would solve my restlessness. But through careful study of Jesus’s words, I have completely changed how I think about Sabbath-like rest. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it.
Next week, we will look at what Sabbath is not for today’s Christian, debunking many of the myths I (and maybe you) have long held about the ancient practice. And then, in our third and final devotional in this series, we will look at what the Bible says Sabbath rest can be and what it can look like practically for us today.