By Joel Comiskey, Living in Victory
Nike is famous for the slogan Just Do it. For some people, the slogan Just Stop is desperately needed. Just stop. Cease from work. It might be hard but when it happens, healing and then victory happens. Many people can’t stop working. They want to just do a little more. But God says “stop.” If you know what’s good for you, “stop.” Rest. Come away from work.
In the long run, those who rest well will get a lot more done, and the quality of that work will be far better. When a person is running on empty, he or she can accomplish very little. Resting one day per week energizes believers spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Marva J. Dawn, author of Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, writes, “To cease working on the Sabbath means to quit laboring at anything that is work. Activity that is enjoyable and freeing and not undertaken for the purpose of accomplishment qualifies as acceptable for Sabbath time” (page 5).
Rest helps us humble ourselves and to remember that life is more than work. It’s saying, “God, I trust in you despite what I think needs to be done. I lay down what I think I must do and trust in you for what you know I need to do.” Resting one day is seeing beyond hard work and developing a relationship with God. One key aspect of rest is the renewal and strength that leads to greater productivity and fruit.
I overworked one spring to the point of exhaustion. I didn’t faithfully keep my day off, didn’t take care of my body, and eventually caught bronchitis. I had a teaching commitment at the time that I couldn’t cancel.
I’ll never forget those sleepless nights wheezing and coughing, knowing that I had to teach the next day. As I look back at those exhausting days, I now realize I tried to cram way too much work into a limited time period and ended up imbalanced. In my desire to fulfill certain goals, I didn’t keep my regular day off, so my family time suffered, and I didn’t spend quality time with the Lord.
The “school of hard knocks,” a lot of challenging input from friends, and time in the Scriptures has changed me. There is a reason, after all, that the principle of setting aside one day to rest permeates Scripture. I learned that I must maintain certain priorities in my life if I wanted to have victory over the long haul. And one of those principles was taking a full day of rest. I needed to simply stop and prioritize time with my Creator.
I often hear, “Joel, I like what you’re saying, but you don’t know my schedule. I just can’t do what you’re asking.” I do realize that each situation is different. But is it necessary to work seven days per week? Ask God to give you wisdom on how to separate one day to rest. I believe he will. Be creative. He’ll show you how to arrange for a day of rest.