It’s hard to believe, but we are fully into the month of March, and with that comes many things, including the well-revered (and often much needed) Spring Break. Though some might point to an ancient Greek tradition of taking three days off in the springtime from their labors, the American tradition of a break in the middle of the school year originates from a swim team forum in Ft. Lauderdale in 1938. The coach had the brilliant idea of bringing his team from frozen New York down to sunny Florida in order to get some training in. By the late 1950s, this became the norm for many teams, and by the ‘80s and 90’s, Florida specifically became branded as a Spring Break destination, with programming by media such as MTV showcasing the extreme debaucheries being done by young people from across the nation. Such is the way of the world, to go from smart planning for exercise to a crazy racket of unbridled recklessness. As Christians, we have to be careful to guard our hearts against the twistings of our society. While Spring Break is potentially a good time to step back and reset, what does the Bible tell us about rest?
The first mention of rest comes in the creation account in Genesis 2:2-3:
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Of first importance is to recognize that God did not rest because He was so worn out. He is establishing a plan of rest and renewal as a part of the weekly rhythm intended for man. After all, Jesus says in Mark 2:27 that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Essentially, yes, man can survive without the Sabbath, but it is a grace of God that He has set out for us a day to rest. Society tells us that we earn rest, not that we are meant to have it naturally. And we know that rest is good, so if God rested from His work, who are we to think that rest is not important enough to prioritize?
We also know that it was a part of the Ten Commandments given to Moses and the people of Israel in Exodus 20:8-10:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
All of creation points to this need for rest. The cycle of day and night, the fruitful growing and winter dormancy of plants, the hibernation of bears, all of these rest cycles are natural to the created beings. Unfortunately we as humans have found ways to work outside of these rhythms with technology, but that makes it even more important for us to take the time to step back and see what rest does for us. We may say that we see the value in rest, but we don’t design our lives with that priority in mind. Spring Break is not the ideal way to take this rest, nor does it follow God’s plan. We aren’t meant to have a week of vacation after several months of non-stop work. God designed the Sabbath to be a weekly place to stop and rest. So how do we combat our tendencies to just go, go, go?
Plan to have time weekly for rest.
I know for me, my schedule can be quite different week to week. We don’t want to create a bigger problem of making the Sabbath into an idol (“I WILL NOT DO ANYTHING on Saturdays EVER!”) but we do want to create weekly space for rest that isn’t just falling asleep exhausted at the end of a 12-15 hour work day. This means that we have to plan a time for this type of resting in God. Whether you use a calendar app, a whiteboard, or a printed paper on the wall, block out time to rest each week. It will take some adjusting, and it may be a few weeks until you can clear out that time, but pursue it. Once you have it locked in, you will find it a sweet and soothing part of the week that you will want to continue to protect against the busyness of life.
Use your rest time to meditate, pray, and reflect on God.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Resting in Jesus isn’t just not doing your daily tasks, job, etc. The Sabbath rest is meant to bring our hearts and minds closer to our Savior as we consider what He has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised us as we continue forward in our lives and ultimately on to eternity with Him. We can only learn from God if we are spending time with Him in prayer and seeking out His voice that we have free access to through His Word.
Be present with your family by turning off the distractions.
Several years ago, I made it a habit to put my phone on Do Not Disturb any time that I went out to dinner or a movie or whatever it may be with someone. Although I recognize that luxury cannot always be afforded, I also know that I can spend an hour with someone and anything that comes up in that hour outside of my perception is in God’s hands, whether or not I am able to see it on my phone. It’s this type of being present that is the hardest to combat, especially when you have school events and multiple jobs and long commutes and the list goes on. But fight for that Sabbath time where you lay aside some of the constant communication with the outside world and focus instead on what is right in front of you.
The Sabbath is a gift of God’s grace where we get to reflect on Jesus as the center of our lives. He is our Provider. He is our Healer and Restorer. He is our Savior, and He invites us to share in His rest by placing our faith in His finished work on the cross. This Spring Break, take time to rest in Jesus.
Love in Christ,