As you read that simple word, what comes to mind?
Maybe it is “ahhhh, I need rest and can’t wait to just lay up on the couch with the remote or phone or book and veg” or maybe it feels restrictive like “I feel like my parents are wanting me to go to bed, but I’m not tired and want to catch up with my friends”.
Maybe it even feels like a myth, like something that people act like may exist like dragons but in reality, you don’t really see it and do not think exists or know.
Rest might feel like a good thought…the word and idea sound great but sometimes does not feel attainable.
Kind of like how I love the idea of a Hawaiian vacation with all of my family or friends, but in reality, it is probably not happening but is fun to dream about it.
What does it even mean and what does it have to do with in regards to spiritual formation?
Why should I rest?
Is rest simply sleep or not doing work?
How do I rest well?
Does all rest look the same?
As a teen or parent of a teen, rest is often a moving target and is vague in what it is. Sleep is a part of it. Being out of school and not having homework is part of it. Maybe vacationing is part of it. But there are deeper parts to it…parts like Shalom, Peace, and Sabbath. We will explore these things later. For now, we should know that rest is complex and important.
Over the summer, we will explore some themes together, themes that are the undercurrent of our being and life lived…themes such as rest, community, freedom, and play to name a few.
Each week we will send out a digital guide to walk through certain themes we feel applies to all of us at our core. This formation series is designed for our FSM family, specifically students but feel free to pass on to friends, parents, siblings or anyone who you wish to take part. Some background and disclaimers: please do not critique the grammar…I’m terrible at it and for speed have not worried too much about it in this guide.
My goal is to feed you spiritually this summer and not worry too much about how it is packaged. There will be typos and sentences that you will have to re-read because of my unpolished style of writing. This is also meant to be deep and stir deep thought but is also designed to be light and an easy ready. There will be stories, questions to think on along with some Scripture.
This is not a heavy Bible study, although God may lead you to some deep dives into Scripture through this. This guide is designed for you to think about concepts that shape our every day that we rarely spend time thinking about. Summer is a different rhythm and a great time to think about these things.
We will start with Rest.
Rest and Shalom “When things are as they should be”
Take a brief moment in your journal or in your thoughts and create or describe your perfect day. Describe or create a day or a moment when all things are as they should be.
For me, things are as they should be or the world feels right when I am at the beach with my family watching them play, then followed by a bike ride to get ice cream and we watch the sunset while laughing, talking, praying and just being together. For me, this is when the world feels right, when it feels like it should be. I’m with the people I love most, in a place I love most doing fun things (ice cream/bikes) while then seeing God’s beauty in nature.
Another similar time for me is at camp where we have played all day at the beach, swam, cleaned ourselves up and walk down to the beach to see 100 students from all different backgrounds playing, taking pictures, laughing, then huddling under a makeshift chapel of lights to sing to God.
These are moments that I get few of but always feel the phrase “this is what life is about”.
The Bible has a term for this feeling called “Shalom”. The meaning of shalom is more than one word. It carries the idea of peace…harmony…prosperity…rightness…wellbeing…completeness. It is a word that we do not use much but sums up the phrase above “When things are like they should be”
So, what does shalom have to do with rest?
As we explore rest, we need to realize that much of our tiredness comes not from physical work but from an emotional and spiritual lack of peace. We can be well rested physically but very tired due to lack of peace or shalom in our lives. True rest comes from true peace, not sleep. True peace comes from knowing Jesus and knowing who we are in him and not the absence of non-peaceful things. Sometimes we can be really busy with school or cheer or soccer or basketball or cutting lawns or band or running a household or doing laundry or seeing patients or teaching school but feel rested. Or better said, we can often feel rested when we are using physical energy because rest is not totally physical.
As we press into Day 1, we will look at the question “am I at peace?”
Please answer the following….
1) What is the most non-peaceful thing in my world right now? (could be friend drama, could be someone hurting you, could be some hassles, could be broken systems you live under such as racial injustice, poverty or classism, could be a sibling or parent conflict)
2) How can I ask others for help in these situations?
3) What would stop me from telling others my needs in this?
4) Am I experiencing shalom?
Well, our world is gripped by sin and we live in a world that isn’t as it should be. We see glimpses of what Heaven is like here on earth but for most of our lives, we live in a broken world that isn’t how it should be. The Gospel, literally the Good News provides us with hope for shalom. Not just as an idea but as a person…Jesus and not just a moment of shalom but an eternity of it.
Have you ever thought about Jesus as your rest? That can be a hard concept to grasp. That my life isn’t going well and I am supposed to look to the person who claims to be God that lived 2000 years ago to help me with my friend drama or with my poverty or with my busted relationship with my parents? This is the way I am supposed to feel more rest and peace and Shalom?
Take a moment to write out how this makes you feel and what questions you may have?
The following is a commentary from parts of the Bible that talk about the Sabbath and Jesus being our rest….
“Jesus can be our Sabbath rest in part because He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). As God incarnate, He decides the true meaning of the Sabbath because He created it, and He is our Sabbath rest in the flesh. When the Pharisees criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that even they, sinful as they were, would not hesitate to pull a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath.
Because He came to seek and save His sheep who would hear His voice (John 10:3,27) and enter into the Sabbath rest He provided by paying for their sins, He could break the Sabbath rules. He told the Pharisees that people are more important than sheep and the salvation He provided was more important than rules.
By saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), Jesus was restating the principle that the Sabbath rest was instituted to relieve man of his labors, just as He came to relieve us of our attempting to achieve salvation by our works. We no longer rest for only one day, but forever cease our laboring to attain God’s favor.
Jesus is our rest from works now, just as He is the door to heaven, where we will rest in Him forever.
Hebrews 4 is the definitive passage regarding Jesus as our Sabbath rest. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers to “enter in” to the Sabbath rest provided by Christ. After three chapters of telling them that Jesus is superior to the angels and that He is our Apostle and High Priest, he pleads with them to not harden their hearts against Him, as their fathers hardened their hearts against the Lord in the wilderness.
Because of their unbelief, God denied that generation access to the holy land, saying, “They shall not enter into My rest” (Hebrews 3:11). In the same way, the writer to the Hebrews begs his readers not to make the same mistake by rejecting God’s Sabbath rest in Jesus Christ. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9–11).
We can find true rest because we can stop having to strive for God’s favor and stop striving to follow The Law because Jesus did this work for us. We can be at peace even when the world is not peaceful because Jesus is our Prince of Peace and is in control. Jesus prepares an eternal shalom that awaits us in Heaven.
As we end, Jesus does not just leave us to deal with non-peace here as we await Heaven without a taste of the things to come. He gives us the gift of The Sabbath, which we will explore soon to be a shadow of this coming eternal peace.
When was a moment or two over the past year when things felt they were as they should be?
Write out a personal prayer for peace: