It’s that time of year again. The end of August and beginning of September bring to us changing temperatures, and school. For those of us who homeschool, it means the opportunity to fill the academic needs of our children while we disciple them in character. But there are things we need to remember.
Our lives with Jesus are not meant to be a sprint.
In the busy hustle and bustle of the 21st Century, we find ourselves always running.
- we run to doctor appointments
- we run to sports practices and games
- we run to do shopping
- we run to drive children here and there
Some of us feel as if our lives are spent in the car/van!
In all this running, we forget that this life isn’t a sprint. A sprint means to: “run at full speed over a short distance.” No one can run at full speed for long. We collapse with exhaustion, dehydration and spent muscles. Sprints are meant to be short term only.
Now, I’m the first to declare that I am NOT a runner. I don’t do any sports on purpose. But I have learned a little about life. I have seen those who try to push and run and sprint as an ongoing way of life. And I have seen them fall into discouragement and despair and seriously struggle with their lives.
Why? Why can’t we keep up that frantic pace? Why can’t we do it all?
The very simple answer is that God didn’t make us that way.
The gift of rest.
If we return to the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start, says Maria in the Sound of Music 😀 ), we find that God instituted a time of rest in our week.
By the seventh day God completed 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. Genesis 2:2-3
Now, of course GOD didn’t need a day of rest. But He knew that WE would need it. Not only did He set up the Jewish calendar so that a day of rest was in it, He made it mandatory. In this verse, we see the heart behind the law. He made that day of rest to be a blessed and holy thing. Not only is it for our physical benefit, it is a spiritual blessing to us as well.
Sometimes we won’t take times of rest unless they are mandatory. We keep pushing and pushing and pushing and sabotage ourselves. Sometimes we think that it is virtuous to push ourselves to the limit. But it isn’t virtuous. It is arrogant and foolish. When we neglect times of rest and refreshment (and I don’t just mean the 6-7 hours of sleep the average American gets), it’s like we are telling God that WE know better than HIM.
I just want to clarify here. I absolutely believe that we are no longer under the law of keeping the Sabbath. But there is more to the law than we often think. The law reveals the heart of man, yes, but it also reveals the heart of God.
The purpose of rest.
Part of the curse was hard work that yielded thorns and thistles. Do you ever work and work and work on something only to have something go awry? Those mess ups, problems, catastrophes are the thorns and thistles in the modern world. We can work long and hard and yield small results. This is simply part of the curse on the creation.
Of course WE, as believers, are freed from the curse. We are freed from the consequences of the curse. But as long as we are dwelling in this temporal world, we still are living among the affects of the curse on our world. This takes the form of exhaustion and struggles with productivity and financial trials. God uses all of these in our lives for our benefit, but we still have the affects of the curse all around us.
God gave us rest as a gift.
God gives to His beloved sleep. Ps 127 2b
His heart is to tenderly care for His children. He knows what we are made of, He understands our weaknesses. He knows that we need time to be refreshed and bask in His presence. He sees our needs with clarity where we only see an unclear reflection.
We need to listen to God and take His gift of rest with the joy and love with which it is offered. It is our opportunity to step into His blessed and holy rest and allow Him to fuel us for the coming days ahead.
As a godly Jew, Jesus followed the law. He kept the Sabbath. Every week He got His day of rest. And He followed the Jewish festivals, many of which were nationwide times of rest. But more than that we see in the scriptures that Jesus would take Himself away, in isolation. He would get with the Father and retreat into His presence.
Jesus WAS God, but when He took on human flesh, He laid aside many of the things of the Godhead. He dwelt in the limitations of the human form. He knew that for Him to keep ministering according to the demand placed upon Him, He needed to be continually filled up. He needed to allow the Father & Spirit to fill Him to that point of overflowing.
Jesus also knew that ministry that comes out of the overflow of our spiritual infilling brings life. It is very easy for us to end up trying to minister out of US – out of the flesh. We don’t live out the riches of our spiritual life when we function in the flesh. It is only by the Spirit that we can see the anointing worked out in our ministry. And if we are not finding that rest in the Lord, if we are not being filled up with Him, we end up functioning out of the flesh. And none of us want that!
Seek His rest.
As this new season in our lives begins, let us seek to honor His rest.
I am entering my 30th and final year of homeschooling. If I have learned anything in this journey, it is that I cannot do this at a full out, full speed race all the time. I cannot live my homeschooling life (or any part of my life) as if it were a sprint. I must pace myself. I make times that are slower, where I reduce the demands on myself. Sometimes I coast to ease up on my body’s exhaustion. Sometimes I even stop.
These times of rest and refreshment strengthen me in so many ways. They enable me to continue to run. They have enabled me to come close to this finish line I see in the distance, this homeschooling finish line. The life finish line is still (hopefully) far in the distance. But the valuable lessons I’ve learned homeschooling hold true on life.
Seek His rest. Step into His presence. Be renewed and invigorated in His love, His truth, His Word.