For the last several years I have assigned a theme for my year. Last year I declared to be a Year of Grace and this absolutely turned out the be the case. The Lord blessed my wife and I with a son after five years of struggle and heartbreak. A couple of times throughout the year I had to return to my own writing to remind myself that things were out of my hands and that I needed God’s grace to make it through.
Typically I assign a theme at the beginning of each year and I’m late this year because of my theme. I need rest. Having a newborn in the house is cause enough to need rest. My son actually sleeps well through the night but this still doesn’t negate frequent sleep interruptions.
More than just physical rest though, I need a break from my burdens. God rested on the seventh day as an example for us to follow. I know that there are different views on whether Christians should still hold to the Sabbath and whether it should be celebrated on the seventh day like the Jews or on Sunday like the early church. I’m unconcerned about that debate as far as the need for rest goes.
As a pastor, I work on Sundays. Even if I take the rest of the day off, there’s no way of getting around the fact that I work on Sunday. So ideally I try to take another day off each week where I do nothing “productive” and don’t beat myself up for watching tv, playing games, or doing anything that would be classified as work. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is impractical because even if I’m resting, everything else around me is not.
What I have discovered though is that if I go 2 or 3 weeks where I don’t intentionally take a day off where it is decided that I won’t work, I will exhaust myself. And typically when this happens, I’m out of sync for several days, not just one day. Often I may skip my day of rest because there is too much work to be done but in the end I actually lose more time. If I just took a regular day off, I’d be far more likely to prevent the kind of burnout that leads me to getting sick or too emotionally drained to do anything for several days.
The last several years have been kind of crazy by my estimation. My responsibilities as a pastor and my personal struggles have both been greater than I believe is typical. The Lord has been gracious and has kept me strong through it all. He has showered me with blessings beyond measure despite the trials that I have endured. Because of all that I’ve been through, I’m asking for rest this year.
I know that I am incapable of just deciding to rest. Just like with grace, this needs to be something that God grants to me. So I am praying that the Lord grants me rest this year; that He would remove obstacles from my life this year that I might recuperate and recover and be more willing and able to serve Him faithfully when the time of rest is over. I pray that the Lord would grant me the opportunity to enjoy my new son without the interruptions like I have experienced in previous years or even ones that are typical in everyday life.
Rest was important enough that God wanted the Israelites to do so every seven days but also every seven years. The Israelites never celebrated a Sabbath year as far as we know. I don’t presume to be able to take an entire year off from working and I enjoy my job enough that I wouldn’t want to. But I am asking that the Lord would grant me rest by easing my burdens this year.