God’s Masterpiece: God’s Rest
How are you doing today? Can you believe that this is the last week of Summer…. Next week when we meet it will be the first full day of Fall! Fall officially begins on Saturday, September 23, 2023. Which means that I need to get my sweatshirts unpacked, put the hot chocolate mix on the counter, and hurry up and get my yard work done before the leaves start falling and it gets too cold to do anything outside. (However, I think I was still doing yard work–raking up leaves–well into November. So maybe I have more time than I realize!) I hope you are getting ready to rake up leaves into ginormous piles and jump in them!
Today, I want to talk to you about rest. Do you like to rest? Do you enjoy moments when you don’t have to do anything? Do you enjoy when you get to do what you want to do? I certainly like to rest! I enjoy those moments when I get to be outside, go for a bike ride, or read a good book. Do you know who else enjoyed moments of rest? God and Jesus did. For example, God rested on the seventh day. Genesis 2:2-3 states, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” God, the busiest person, the busiest power in all creation, found time to rest. Not only did He rest from all His work, but He blessed His Sabbath Day. If God can find time to take a moment to rest, then certainly you can do the same thing. But are you?
The Bible highlights eight specific moments when we find Jesus seeking rest. First, Jesus sought rest in order to grieve. After receiving the news about the beheading of John the Baptist, Matthew 14:13 states, “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself….” Second, Jesus often sought rest in moments of prayer. Mark 1:35 asserts, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place [by himself], and there he prayed.” Third, for Jesus, resting was a way to set boundaries. After preaching to the people on the shores of Galilee, the disciples “took him with them in the boat, just as he was [tired and worn-out]” (Mark 4:36) so that he could find rest and separate himself from the everyday world. Fourth, Jesus used rest as means to set an example for his followers. Mark 6:31 teaches us, “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Fifth, Jesus often used moments of rest for opportunities to pray, to spiritually re-connect with God, “After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:46). Sixth, for Jesus, rest was something that he observed with consistency and routinely. Luke points out, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Seventh, rest allowed Jesus to consult with God and reflect on his Godly mission: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12). And lastly, rest granted Jesus the opportunity to become physically restored. John notes in the story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well, “Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon” (John 4:6).
From this brief list, it is evident that rest is something blessed by God and practiced routinely by Jesus. Rest allowed Jesus the separation that he needed, time to pray, moments to reflect, opportunities to regain physical strength, to set and be an example for his followers, and to establish boundaries. If rest is important enough to God and Jesus Christ to incorporate it into creation and into the act of sharing the good news, then why is it not important to us as disciples and doers of the word?
Let me help you understand this a little bit better. Does everyone see this? It’s a pillow. We use pillows to rest our heads on when we sleep. We wouldn’t be very comfortable without a pillow to rest our heads or neck on. And our back would start hurting and we wouldn’t get that much sleep that night. Getting a good night’s sleep is really important, especially if you want to be energetic and active the next day. Sleep helps our body in a lot of ways. It helps our muscles rebuild and gives our stomach time to digest all the food we ate that day. Sleep is necessary. Without it we wouldn’t survive.
You know kind of like this pillow, God also provides comfort and rest. But I’m not talking about sleep for our bodies, I’m talking about rest for our souls. Do you know what a soul is? Our souls are spirits that live forever and when we die, our spirits live on. When you accept Jesus into your heart, you accept his promise that your soul will live forever in heaven. But sometimes, we are too busy running around, playing with friends, doing chores, finishing homework, or going shopping with our parents, that we forget to rest. We forget that our soul needs rest in order to do what Jesus needs us to do.
Fortunately, Jesus said he will give us rest. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” If we love Jesus and follow him, he will give us rest and comfort. We can be assured that we will spend an eternity with God in heaven. We’ll never have to be tired, or stressed, or worried. So get a good night’s sleep tonight, and when you lay your head on your pillow, remember that God provides a total rest in heaven. God wants you to rest so that you can be mighty and strong and who He needs you to be.
Let Us Pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for rest. Thank you for giving us the energy to have fun and play with friends and for refilling our energy when we rest. May we strive every day to rest and be more like you. Amen.
Your Friend, Holy Spirit!
This lesson was borrowed and adapted from the website https://www.childrens-ministry-deals.com/pages/object-lesson-rest
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