A Time to Rest

God willing and everything major going according to plan, when you read this I’ll have just returned from two weeks in Estes Park, Colorado. Hopefully refreshed, cheerful, and well prepared to get back to work on Monday.

At time of writing, however, the start of that trip is fifteen days away, and final preparations are proving stressful. It’s a common experience–and returning can be even more stressful. The world can do a lot of “moving on” in two weeks; how many people are really brave enough to stay completely out of touch with the office for that long?

Perhaps it’s not surprising that sabbaticals–paid time off that traditionally lasts for months–are associated primarily with the clergy (though higher educators also make use of them). It takes a lot of faith to believe that your regular world can get along without you for that long, and that you stand a reasonable chance of rejoining it when you do get back.

Yet the concept is rooted in the Bible itself–in the Law of Moses, as a matter of fact. God says in Leviticus 25:2-6, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you have entered the land I am giving you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath rest before the LORD every seventh year. For six years you may plant your fields and prune your vineyards and harvest your crops, but during the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest. It is the LORD’s Sabbath. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards during that year. And don’t store away the crops that grow on their own or gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. The land must have a year of complete rest. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own during its Sabbath. This applies to you, your male and female servants, your hired workers, and the temporary residents who live with you.”

Talk about requiring faith to take a break. The modern equivalent would be a year off with no pay, no money in the bank, and no credit for the simplest purchases–just the trust that God would provide whatever you needed when you needed it, and not one minute sooner.

It was a test of faith like no other–and the overwhelming majority of Israelites, throughout their long history, failed it and pretty much carried on business as usual during the seventh year. Can we really blame them? Would we be any less terrified at the prospect?

Yet, practically speaking, we have every reason to live by that sort of faith every day. As everyone who follows the news knows, our “safe” everyday worlds of finance, employment, and personal security can be shattered by a thousand possible out-of-the-blue disasters. And we really can do nothing about that. Only God can: and only He knows whether He will give us protection from disaster or strength to come through it.

Only those who trust His care can fully enjoy their time off.

What the Bible Says about Freedom

How better to acknowledge the Fourth of July weekend than to remember our freedom in Christ? If you’ve been driven by “musts” and “shoulds,” convinced you never do enough for God, then remind yourself that He would rather have you rejoice in His gifts than strive to deserve them. Thank Him for setting you free!

“I [God] have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free” (Isaiah 44:22).

“I [God] will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare” (Isaiah 49:9).

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink–even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk–it’s all free!” (Isaiah 55:1).

“For you who fear [God’s] name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2).

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” (Luke 4:18).

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. … if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36).

“For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:7).

“Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace” (Romans 6:14).

“The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (Romans 8:21).

“And since [our freedom] is through God’s kindness, then it is not by [our] good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is–free and undeserved” (Romans 11:6).

“[God] will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns” (1 Corinthians 1:8).

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

“God sent [Christ] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children” (Galatians 4:5).

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5:1).

“[God] is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:7).

“[Jesus] gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

(All verses are from the New Living Translation, as posted at BibleGateway.com.)

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