I work hard at being healthy. I haven’t always, but since turning fifty I’ve worked at turning back the clock. Most people think I’m in my forties (or at least I like to think they do) and I can keep up or outpace most people in there 20’s and 30’s. One of the reasons I work really hard at being healthy is I hate being sick.
Up until a week ago, I haven’t been sick with so much as a cold in over three years. I’ve learned over time that the key to good health is exercise, nutrition, and rest. All three are important, but we tend to underestimate the importance of rest in building an optimal you.
From a physiological perspective growth doesn't happen when we exercise, but when we rest. Proper rest always creates a better version of you. I was reminded of this recently. I tend to cram in my workouts around my travel. On Wednesday evening I returned home from a trip and immediately jump into an intense Crossfit workout called a chipper where we did 60 calorie row, 50 knees to bar, 40 wall ball, 30 cling and jerks, and 20 muscle ups. The next morning less than twelve hours later I went back to my Box and did another intense workout. These back-to-back workouts wreaked my body. Why? Because I didn’t give my body time to recover between workouts. I didn’t rest. One week later I’m still paying for it with a good ole summer cold.
God designed us to work hard and to rest hard. In His creative genius He pause each evening of the creation week and reflected on the goodness of each day as He rested. In six days he created the heavens and the earth and then created a seventh day where he took pause as He devoted it to rest. When He gave us the Ten Commandment, He included this day of rest as a Sabbath that is to be kept holy. In many ways rest is Holy.
When we rest we recover, replenish, re-center, and God recreates a healthier and better you. Our best gift to others is a rested you. From a ministry and/or work perspective every person or client deserves a well rested you.
Our foundation for rest is the gospel. Sometimes we fail to rest because of religion. Religion tells us we have to work hard to earn God’s favor or forgiveness. Religion tells us that we are never good enough. Religion tells me that if I can do or not do this then I will earn God’s approval or the approval of others. In religion there is no rest.
The gospel is an altogether different story. Jesus invites us to rest. “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” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Every Rabbi had a yoke. A yoke was his interpretation of the Law, which included the Ten Commandments and 613 other laws in the Torah on Jewish life. For every Rabbi there was hundreds of smaller laws know as “hedges” designed to form a fence or hedge around the written law in order to protect it. These small laws along with their oral interpretations formed a very specific way of life unique to the each Rabbi forming a yoke. These various yokes were known for being heavy and burdensome.
Jesus to the contrary has a yoke. His yoke is easy and light. His yoke is the gospel. His gospel is the good news announcement that He has redeemed us, He is renewing us, and He will ultimately restore all things.
This changes everything. Now I no longer have to do in order to earn God’s favor. Now I do because I have God’s favor. I have a whole new heart. I have an entirely new motivation for living. I can now live from a deep well from within. When I rest I draw from this deep well. When I rest I able to reflect on the goodness of the gospel. It’s this goodness that recreates me.
It’s this gospel that reminds me that I have God’s approval. It’s because of this approval I can now rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
David Putman is founder of PTG and a Lead Navigator for Auxano.