“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late...for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
This afternoon after we got home from church my husband turned to me and said, “You need to take a nap this afternoon.” He did not ask me if I was tired and he really did not give me the option to not take his advice – it was really more of a command than it was a suggestion. But I knew he was right and so after lunch I took a nap – a 2 hour nap!
As I thought about how my husband took it upon himself to make sure I was going to get the rest I needed this sabbath, I was taken back to a story in Nehemiah that I read earlier this week. In the story below, Nehemiah played the same role as my husband did, but instead of just telling one person she should take a rest he stood in the commanding position and told Israel that they needed to rest.
Here is the story for you to read for yourself:
“In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, 'What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.' So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. Then I warned them, and said to them, 'Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!' From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day.” Nehemiah 13:15-22
As I was collecting my thoughts over what God was trying to teach me today about the sabbath, I think the lesson I was meant to learn is this: Sometimes I tend to get so caught up in what is going on around me that I just forget to rest - the day and the activities take over and rest is lost, again. I find it is at those these times in my life, God uses others to bring me those reminders of the rest I so desperately need (and sometimes those people even bar my ability to keep me from moving even one step ahead before I take the rest I need).
Conversely, there are times in my lives where I am the person who is called to step in and remind another person they need to rest. Either way, rest is within God's plan to keep all of us within His will and at our optimum operating potential. Without rest we start to slow down, we do not think as clearly as we should, and we do not have the ability to do things with the energy they deserve. The problem is that even though we know these things, our sinful nature is always trying to push harder, go further, and skip out on the rest we need so that the next thing on our to-do list can get done.
God requests (and even commands) His people sleep (and rest) because He knows we need it. Remember to take that rest and listen to those around you who are advising you to take the rest you need. They love you too much to see you set yourself up for all of the things which lack of rest can lead you towards. In love, obediently follow their request, you will be all the more ready for the challenges ahead if you do.