Scripture: On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy , because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. ~ Genesis 2:2-3
Theological Thought: Some biblical scholars have suggested that early hearers of Genesis 2 would have been concerned that the creator was resting. It would have raised question such as “how long did he rest?” “Is he still resting?” “What happened while the Creator wasn’t at his post?” It has led to the question “Did the fall occur because God was taking time off?” It might be more helpful, however to think of it as God resting from establishing his kingdom – setting up the borders. It in no way means that he stopped watching over his domain.
Reflection: Whenever I think of God resting on the seventh day I find myself asking “what does God do to relax?” Now me, I might read a book, or play video games. If I’m really beat I’m going to drink a cup of tea and take a nap. But what does the Creator of the Universe do at the end of the work week to relax? But that’s the trap. Relaxing and resting are two different things. Relaxing is what I do to distract myself from my problems so that I can unwind and forget the burdens I bear (rightly or wrongly). Resting, especially in Genesis 2, might be better thought of as “stopping.” Some bibles even translate “So he rested” as “so he ceased.” That’s a tough one for me to handle. That rest, real rest, the kind of rest we are encouraged to in Hebrews 3, requires a complete cessation of all activity. When scripture says “be still and know that I am God,” it doesn’t mean, “go for a walk and meet me in the woods.” It doesn’t mean “sit in intercession for an hour or so.” It doesn’t even mean “read and study the bible.” It means that I must be still. I must stop. Just like in Genesis 2 I have to hit the brakes, turn off the engine and be still in body, mind and spirit. Now personally I am the type of person who thrives under pressure. Slow days at the office are painful because there’s so little to do. I struggle to keep engaged and get any work done if there isn’t an impending deadline or a mountain of work to get through. So the idea that rest, that stopping from all activity is a holy thing that can bring me closer to God is very difficult for me to accept. I could have accepted relaxing. I can accept that I need to relax to take care of myself, that I need to shut off the part of me that works, but I am the type of person who must then be distracted to relax. But that is not rest. Rest is stopping and finding peace there.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to rest. Teach me to be at peace in stillness and to enjoy it.
Practice: Create time to sleep as late and as much as possible. Author James B. Smith says this about sleep. “Sleep is a perfect example of the combination of discipline and grace. You cannot make yourself sleep. You cannot force your body to sleep. Sleep is an act of surrender. It is a declaration of trust. It is admitting that we are not God (who never sleeps), and that is good news. We cannot make ourselves sleep, but we can create the conditions necessary for sleep.”