I woke up about a week ago at 4:00am, wired awake by the sense that an ominous doom was hanging over me. I felt like my life was going to end, and that I desperately needed to do something about it. The only problem was that nothing was wrong.
It’s clear I was experiencing anxiety from working too much and resting too little. But I don’t just mean rest in the sense of “physical sleep.”
In Genesis, after God created the world and everything in it, he took a full day to rest with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:2-3). This was the origin of the Sabbath. And they obviously weren’t sleeping all day long.
In the New Testament, Jesus said that man was not created for the Sabbath, but rather the Sabbath was created for man (Mark 2:27). It was, and always will be, a gift. Even before our fall into sin.
How much more, then, should we embrace a weekly rhythm of work and rest in our broken bodies? It should go without saying that we need rest. But the types of rest we make time for is important.
Studies show that being on social media, playing video games, or watching television (especially the news) doesn’t help us rest. It keys us up and adds anxiety.
So, when we take our day off, we are doing ourselves no favors by wasting it on video games and Netflix. The temptation to do this is way too strong in my life, and I need to constantly fight it. When I don’t feel good, it’s easy to numb myself with entertainment rather than face my issues and deal with them in a Godly manner.
Lately, as I’ve been working on finishing a novel on Genesis titled EDEN, it was profoundly moving for me to realize that the original Sabbath was focused on peace-filled relationship between God and man. They relaxed together, ate food together, and grew closer. That was God’s original plan for the Sabbath: unbroken, life-giving togetherness.
I’ve noticed that when I pattern my Sabbath after that – meaning that I prioritize true quality time with God through prayer and Scripture, and with my wife and daughter through undistracted time together – I feel truly rested and recharged for the week.
When, instead, I fill it with entertainment or to-do lists or anxiety over my writing business and work, I despair through the new week.
Spiritual, emotional, and physical rest are practical joys that God has given us. We would enjoy life (and God) more if we took them seriously.
Lord—help us to truly rest in you. Be our fortress! Be our protection (Psalm 91). Save us from slavery to our own desires. Whether that’s the desire to minister, to get things done, to be successful, or to entertain ourselves. Remind us that we exist to love and worship and glorify and know you. And that if we aren’t walking in intimacy with you, all our efforts to bring others to you will offer us no benefit on our final day. Strengthen us to walk by your Spirit every moment of every day, so that we can go about the rest of our week working diligently doing good in your name. Thank you! Amen.
Institute your own true Sabbath this week. Choose one day and set it aside. A couple regular chores are fine, especially because cleaning can help you feel more at peace. But don’t work on your side business, or plan a big event, etc. Also, avoid screen time. No smartphones, no Netflix, no movies, no video games. Prioritize being with people you love. And carve out serious time to read your Bible and immerse yourself in prayer and worship. The point of it is to enjoy deeper communion with Christ and with others, and to let the love you feel from God and your loved ones energize you for the week. If you do this, let me know how it goes by commenting on the post below!
About Brennan McPherson
BRENNAN S. MCPHERSON writes epic, imaginative biblical fiction with heart-pounding plots and lyrical prose, for readers who like to think biblically and feel deeply.