The following is a devotional talk I gave to the local MOPs group about Rest:
When I was asked to do today’s devotional I happily said yes. When I was told the topic was rest I laughed. What are you supposed to tell a bunch of moms of preschoolers about rest? Buckle up Buttercup, you’re not getting any of that for a while! That hardly seems encouraging! But the good news is, that’s only one kind of rest. That kind is a bit illusive in this season of motherhood, but that does not mean there is no rest for you.
Let me define the three types of rest:
Sabbath Rest – One of the ten commandments. A 24 hour period where the Israelites (who were wandering in the desert at that time) were to not work. They were to gather twice as much manna the day before so they would have enough for the Sabbath as well. That was the only time they were allowed to do that.
Spiritual Rest – In the Gospels the theology of rest is most clearly articulated in the words of Jesus in the last part of Matthew 11 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ( Matt 11:28-30 ). The rest referred to here is not just our eternal life with God, but it is also rest in this world. It is the sense of security and peace that flows from a right relation with God the Father, through obedience to his Son.
Worldly Rest – Verb: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Noun: an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.
Let’s start by talking about Sabbath Rest. The idea is simple. We are human and we need rest. Our bodies need rest. We cannot work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Even if we had the mental fortitude to do so, eventually our bodies would give out.
God rested on the 7th day not because He was tired, but to give us an example. Work hard for 6 days, but on the 7th: rest.
Under the Law, Sabbath Rest was a very specific commandment given by God for the good of his people that ended up getting polluted by the Pharisees. They made rules upon rules about what was and was not ‘work’. But then as we know Jesus came and turned the idea of the Sabbath on its ear by performing several miracles on the Sabbath. For us today the Sabbath does not look like a list of do nots, but we do need to look at the Old Testament principle of the Sabbath and apply it. So that may look like cooking most of your food on Saturday so that on Sunday after church you can come home and just warm up lunch. It may look like doing an extra load or two during the week so you don’t have to do laundry on Sunday. It may look like getting up a bit earlier on Monday morning to get the lunches packed for the day so you don’t have to do it Sunday night.
It looks like taking Sunday and focusing on restful things. Whatever those restful things are for you in this time of your life. You can’t not change diapers just because it’s the sabbath, unfortunately. But what you can do is spend time together as a family doing something fun and easy and relaxing. Play in the pool. Take a walk. Read aloud. Watch a funny movie together. Go to the park. The idea is to not make the Sabbath like any other workday. Find the things you normally do Monday through Saturday and do as few of those things as you can get away with on Sunday. If you can implement this practice, you might find you have less of a need for rest during the busy week.
What about Spiritual or Biblical Rest? What is that? How is it different from Sabbath Rest?
While Sabbath Rest was a time of deliberate physical rest. Biblical or Spiritual rest is more of an emotional and mental rest. As I said before, the Matthew 11 passage is the best example of that. It’s the idea that we are not alone in this mad world. We are not left to just flail about trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. Biblical Rest shows us what burdens are ours to carry and what are not.
The Vaccine is a miracle, and everyone should get it. The Vaccine is poison and no one should get it. We should let those poor people across the border, we should send all those people back home. What about all those Americans and American allies left in Afghanistan?
Just 5 minutes of watching the news can make a person feel utterly hopeless. But here’s the thing moms, that is not our burden to bear. Most of the time those big scary things are someone’s burdens. God is working in them and we should certainly pray about them. And maybe there is someone in this room who works for the department of the government handling the border crisis, but if not, then that’s not your burden.
What is your burden? That is the question you need to answer. That is the question you need to ask God to reveal to you. If you’re here it can be assumed that you have children. And I’m also going to assume you are married. Those are your first ‘burdens’ so to speak. Those are the things you need to be focusing the most energy on. Being a Godly wife, raising Godly children, that’s no small thing. God has given you a specific task, for a specific season and if you go to Him with those tasks or ‘burdens’ they will be light!
I know it sounds impossible, but I am convinced, mostly from experience, that often when a wife and mother experiences her most burdensome, overwhelming season it is because she is carrying burdens that are not hers to carry. Ask your husband for help in this area. He knows you better than anyone. One of the things I learned early on was to tell anyone who asked me to do or join anything, that I needed to speak to my husband and I’d get back to them. This wasn’t just to buy me time to think about it, though it did have that benefit, but when I took the time to ask my husband and listen to his response it really helped me prioritize. There were a lot of things I said no to as a young mom. And between you and me, I can’t think of one single thing I would go back and say yes to. Every yes is a no somewhere else and fair or not, a yes outside the home usually means a no to your husband and children. That’s not always bad. I did say yes to things but when I did my husband and kids were on board and willing to help make it work. The point is, you will find no rest if you are doing things that are not yours to do, and carrying burdens that are not yours to carry.
Finally let’s talk about Worldly Rest. (and by Worldly I mean in this world, not sinful.) This one is the easiest to understand, and yet often the most misused. This kind of rest might look like putting the kids down early, putting on your favorite pj’s and fuzzy socks, grabbing a glass of wine and watching a movie with your husband. It’s taking a bath during naptime after a very long morning, It’s when your friend comes to get the kids for the afternoon and you get the whole house to yourself where no one will ask you questions. As I said earlier, this type of rest is the most elusive during your stage of life, an often the most longed for. This type of rest is the one that, if not able to be found, can get us right off our spot and send us straight into Bad Attitudesville.
You know the scenario: You get all ready and get that movie queued up and someone wakes up with a nightmare. Or you get that bath all ready and stick one toe in only to hear a child yelling that he wet the bed. Or your friend is on her way to get the kids so you can enjoy your glorious afternoon alone and a child throws up, turning your beautiful quiet day alone into an afternoon of cleaning up vomit.
These are the moments that test us. These are the trying moments. These are the times when we are tempted to say, “I just wanted ONE MINUTE to myself! Is that too much to ask! I work my tail off for this family and I just want to take a bath in peace!” or, if we are rightly experiencing Sabbath Rest and Biblical Rest, perhaps instead of losing it, with the help of the Holy Spirit we might be able to comfort that frightened child with a book and a little extra cuddle time before you start the movie. Or maybe you grab that sweet child who wet the bed and put them in the bath you drew up for yourself, get them all cleaned up and then crawl into your bed with them for a little nap. Or instead of your afternoon off you get some quality time with a sick child reading books and watching their favorite cartoons between cleaning up vomit and they remember that day for the rest of their lives because their mom was there when they felt their worst.
That’s the ideal. We often fall short. I KNOW I did. But if we are getting the type of rest God has for us in the season he has us in, we have a much better shot of handling it correctly when our oh-so-longed-for moment of worldly rest gets shattered.
What it all boils down to is are we relying on God to sustain us? Are we trusting him to help us carry the load he has given us? Are we obeying Him and what He has for us as moms? That is where Rest is found.