Day 44, April 25, 2020
Genesis chapter one ends with God’s dramatic declaration that everything he has created is “Very good.” The sixth day of creation comes to an end. But there is a seventh day. The seventh day is found in the first three verses of Genesis chapter 2. On this Sunday, the day traditionally set aside by people of the Christian faith as a day of rest, hear the action of God on the seventh day, as found in Genesis 2:1-3
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day God rested from his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” God rested on the seventh day. In a world marked by goodness, it seems very clear that rest is a good thing. After all, God rested. Setting aside one day in seven to rest was formalized in Exodus 20 with the commandment for Sabbath rest, but way back in the story of creation, in the story of beginnings, in the story of our beginnings, God rested. And it was good rest.
This might be a strange time to be reminded that rest is good. This is the 44th day I have been writing these daily devotionals. I began writing them because our Governor and national leaders told us to stop what we were doing and get home in a hurry…and stay there. In other words, we have had a long rest, perhaps for many, a rest that feels too long.
The rest of the Sabbath is not normal rest. We rest not just because we are tired or worn out. We rest not just because the work at the office is completed. We rest not just because we have punched our timesheet and we are off the clock. When we rest the rest of Sabbath, we are resting in the Lord. We are resting in recognition that there is one greater than us, one beyond us, one who is so in control of this universe that we can rest. We rest to remind ourselves that the world does not depend on us, on our actions, on our busyness, on our contributions, on our fervor, or on our zeal. God has this. God is in control. Sabbath rest draws us back to God, calling us to rest in God, to meditate on God, to remember God, to worship God, and to celebrate God.
Here are some Sabbath words I have found helpful.
“The story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden they would stop walking, sit down to rest for a while, and then make camp for a couple of days before going any farther. They explained that they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them.”
Many of us have been resting a lot these last six plus weeks. But that does not mean our souls have caught up to us. The stress and the uncertainty of the Coronavirus Crisis might have had exactly the opposite effect. We might feel disconnected from our souls, anxious and worried about today, tomorrow, and the days to come, fearful about our physical health, our financial health, and our emotional health.
As a pastor these times are very humbling. I don’t have the answers to these complex and daunting questions and fears. But I know the one who does have the answers. And so do you. You know the One who has the answers. We have spent six days watching God work and hearing God say, “It is good.” We have leaned in at the end of those six days to hear God give his summary judgment, “It is very good.” Hear now our God calling us to a seventh day, a day not of work, a day of rest, a day of spiritual rest, a day for our souls to catch up.
· Maybe you will light a candle today and let the flame of the light remind you of the God who burns bright in your heart.
· Maybe you will find a quiet place where you can, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
· Maybe you will take a walk and pay attention to all the sights and the sounds that are God’s way of saying, “I am with you. I am here. I love you. You are mine.”
· Maybe you will examine closely a picture or a painting, a famous work of art or a work of art that represents the creative efforts of a person who holds a special place in your heart, and in those mixing of colors and strokes of a brush you will be called back to the great masterpiece of art known as God’s wide and wonderful world.
· Maybe you will listen to the words of a favorite hymn or praise song. Let the praise that fills the air draw you near to the One who fills your heart.
God is good…all the time. God is good each and every day of creation. And God is good on the day of Sabbath, on the day of rest. Rest is good. If your soul has fallen behind in this time of crisis, may today be a day to allow your soul to catch up. May today be a day of Sabbath rest, for God is good…all the time. And all the time…God is good.
With the love of Christ,