A time to rest
Note from Rebecca Ribnick
Just this word puts a smile on my face.
Thoughts of July’s green lawns, full gardens, and bright sunshine keeps me going during the bleakest of February days. July is the pinnacle of summer and Minnesotans tend to pack it full knowing there will be plenty of time to rest during our long winter.
Yet there is more to July than barbecues and summer sports. Recently, God drew my attention to the fact that July is the seventh month of the year.
Seven is an interesting number in the Bible.
It is the number of articles in the tabernacle, the number of times Jesus spoke on the cross, and the number of churches that received a letter in the book of Revelation. Seven often represents fullness, perfection, and rest. On the seventh day, God rested from His work of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). So too, He commanded the Israelites that the seventh day of their week and every seventh year be ones of total rest from their labor (Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 25:1-7).
While July is typically full of long days on the lake and a break from our regular schedules, this month I have been struck by God’s quiet call to rest. And it is a quiet call; rest does not beckon loudly.
Rest in July does not mean sitting idly for a month, though distraction-free time is inevitably part of it. Instead, God is inviting us to rest each part of our triune nature: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We know that our body rests through sleep, good food, and a change of pace. So too, many of us are familiar with the things that bring rest to our soul, be it a good book, a walk in nature, or laughing with friends. But what does it look like to rest our spirit?
Scripture is very intentional. When God lists our spirit, soul and body—in that progression—He deliberately emphasizes a divine order. When we take time to rest our spirit, then the rest we take for our soul and our body is exponentially more potent. It is like mending the holes in a leaky bucket before trying to fill it.
So the question remains, how do we find rest for our spirit?
Maybe an easier question to answer is, “What does it look for God to rest?”
When God rested on the seventh day of creation, it was not because he was tired. God is like an artist setting down his paintbrush fully satisfied after applying the final brushstroke to his masterpiece. He is not a marathoner collapsing upon crossing the finish line.
I picture God stepping back after fashioning the pinnacle of His creation—humankind who perfectly reflect His image and the salvation plan already in place (Revelation 13:8)—sighing in satisfaction, and simply enjoying His work.
So too, rest is found for our spirit by stepping back and marveling in the complete perfection of God’s grace. The book of Hebrews talks about the spirit rest available to us: “For those of us who believe, faith activates the promise and we experience the realm of confident rest!” (Hebrews 4:3, PTL).
Belief is all that is necessary to step into spirit rest.
I love how the The Mirror, a Bible paraphrase, translates Hebrews 4:10: “God’s rest celebrates His finished work; whoever enters into God’s rest immediately abandons His own efforts to improve what God has already perfected.” We are fully accepted in Christ. There is nothing to do that can earn, justify or qualify for what is already fully ours. We are not just pardoned, we are reconciled. We are not just restored, we are innocent with our reputation intact. We cannot aid His salvation work, nor can we do anything to make Him love us more or less. His love for us is full, complete, and perfect.
The doorway to spirit rest is simply to take God at His Word.
This beautiful, hot month of July, I hear the Lord inviting us all to rest from Christian industry (a good thing) in favor of intimacy with the Father (a better thing). I see Him calling us to rest from trying improve upon His masterpiece work of salvation and instead step into a deeper place of trust that His work is already perfect. Like God on creation’s seventh day, this month let’s step back, sigh deeply and admire His masterpiece.
Happy summer, everyone!