What is rest? Rest isn't just a place. In Hebrew, the word for rest is "menuchah", which means resting place, place of stillness, repose, consolation, peace, the condition of restfulness, to settle down. Rest is also an attitude and an internal posture. But ultimately, rest is more than that. Rest is a person -- the Person of Jesus Himself.
Abiding in the Vine (John 15)
In 1974 I went through a period of burnout. I almost left my family and the work of the ministry. When you are tired or stressed out, your judgment is affected. Molehills become mountains.
The Lord "spoke" to me and said: "I rested, what is wrong with you?"
So I began to take a day off every week. I took my vacations and long weekends. After practicing this for a period of time, I noticed a measurable difference physically and mentally.
And then the Lord indicated to me that my wife, Nedra, needed rest, too. A woman’s work is never done: a housewife makes beds to be unmade, she washes dishes to be dirtied, she cleans the house to be dirtied, and she raises children to leave home.
A day off for Nedra -- that would affect the entire church.
"Monthly conferences, special meetings – meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. You’ve worn me out!" (Isaiah 1:13-14, The Message).
We cut out a number of weekly meetings and moved our Sunday morning church meeting to Sunday evening so that people could rest and play with their families and friends.
But God also says through Isaiah, "They wouldn’t listen!" Case in point: My friend Jim had a heart attack in his early 40s. He was a pastor and burned out, too. The Lord appeared to Jim while he was in a coma and said, "I am now collecting from you all the Sabbaths you owe Me!" Jim repented and the Lord healed him.
Follow Jesus' Example: Enter His Rest!
Psalm 23:2 tells us, "He leads me beside the waters of menuchah – He leads me beside the waters of quietness." And in Mark 6:12, Jesus said, " 'Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.' There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. They left for a quieter spot" (The Book).
We need to take time out to pray so that we don't get fatigued, overworked, depressed, and anxious. And then we need to listen to God. If we don't listen, if we don't take that rest, we are liable to die prematurely.
Let's not wait until we have compromised our health. Let's instead embrace Hebrews 4:9-11, which says, "So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who enter into God’s rest will find rest from their labors, just as God rested after creating the world. Let us do our best to enter that place of rest" (The Book).
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