Shavat

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this word: rest. Funny, in order to comprehend it in all it’s forms, understand it so that I can DO it, I have been cogitating and agitating myself – and oops, did you catch what I said: So I can DO it. 

Have you ever caught yourself wondering how to rest? I’m not a great napper, so as a kid when I was instructed to rest I begged to know what I was allowed to DO. May I color? Read? Listen to music? I’m still that way.

So let’s imagine, me, that little kid with a box of 36 crayons, and a blank piece of paper. For that matter, imagine the adult me with a palette of colors and a blank piece of pottery. You do it to. Begin to create, decorate, personalize. My page or piece would have a background of blue, a spattering of tiny, shapeless flowers and sprigs of green spurting up between the buds, reaching for a endless sky.

And then I screw it up.

You probably do too. It’s because we don’t know when to stop, cease, desist, refrain, conclude, shavat. Shava-what?

As I look at my masterpiece, I keep wondering what is missing. So I add a dot of purple, a few birds, bigger flowers, a house, a puppy, a swing, a kid, a fence – and suddenly my work is crowded, fussy and less-than-beautiful. Apparently more isn’t always more.

Thank God He didn’t have that problem with creation. God knew how to Shavat. On day seven, Sheba, he knew that what was good was complete. Interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t say that God sat back with a good book, turned around to work on a different piece of art or started leading an angelic choir. The Scripture considers God Rested, as a complete thought, and gives no explanation. 

God rested because He was finished. It was good, and perhaps to continue working would mess it up. Hmmm… (obviously a perfect God wouldn’t mess it up, but for the sake of argument, bear with me)

Jesus died on Friday afternoon, the Jewish 7th day, or Sabbath – Saturday. So, when Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” the sunset and next sunrise were Nature’s exclamation point – COMPLETE, DONE, FINITO, OVER, SIN IS CRUSHED, AND THE WORK OF SALVATION IS FINISHED!

The Sabbath and the Old Testament law are no longer binding on Christians. However, Sabbath, rest, is still good. More importantly, because Jesus finished the work, if we continue to work, thinking we can earn God’s favor, we will mess it up.

Do As I Say, AND As I Do

I’m not very good at resting. In fact, if I were training myself, I would be on my own nerves. How many times I have advised someone, “Take a day off. It’s OK. It’s not helpful to over-stress your body.” I usually feel my conscience tapping me on shoulder saying, “Are you listening to yourself?”

I got a good, pointed reminder of this as I studied the materials for my NESTA personal trainer certification. God made our bodies capable of hard work, and it is good. We imitate our Father in heaven when we work, like He did when He created us. But, as modern, 21st century humans, we conveniently forget that God rested too. God then instituted the Sabbath, commanding us to rest as well.

In the physical realm, it’s the resting that “does a body good.” In the hours after physical exertion, our muscles repair, strengthen and grow; our bones strengthen, too. In the spiritual realm, after we work – serving God and others – rest, quiet mediation on His word is when we regain our strength, grow in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. It is when we are still that we can know God better, which in turn makes us better able to obey Him in our work for Him. (Ps. 46:10)

God didn’t need to rest. I am certain that He wasn’t fatigued after the strenuous work of commanding the world to exist. But He did rest. I believe God rested in order to show us what was best for us. Proverbially, we preach to our children, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Thank the Lord that He chose to set an example for His hard-headed creation.