Consider the common dinner roll. The pivotal time in the life of a roll is the rising, when it is left alone, under a cloth, in a warm place away from drafts. The dough inhales while it rests, emerging from the cloth a grand thing indeed.
Consider, too, the farmer’s land. Every few seasons the farmer will give a portion of his land a rest, so that the soil, depleted from years of giving, can take for a while.
Now look at me (just don’t look too closely, or you’ll see how old I’m getting around the eyes). All week long I pour myself out, as I know you do, and by Sunday I am out of gas, my batteries dead. I am a lung after a long exhale, burning for air.
God knows we need rest. He demonstrated it on the seventh day of creation. He mandated it in the fourth commandment. He reiterated it in Matthew 11. He wrote 8 hours of it into each day, and one day of it into each week.
But somewhere along the line, the Sabbath became just another day to get things done, to catch up on chores and prepare for the coming week. Church became a source of stress and a consumer of time.
I am not exempt from this problem. Often I find myself exhausted on Sunday nights, needing a break more than ever, rather than feeling fortified and enriched as God intended.
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:27-29). He didn’t say, “Come unto church,” nor did he say, “Come unto Bible study.” He said, “Come unto me.”
Please don’t hear me dissing church. Church is essential. We have several church options where we live and we go nearly every Sunday morning. We sing and we listen and we learn. We fellowship and we give our offerings. We even wear nice clothes (if clothes without holes constitutes nice). But we don’t berate ourselves if we’re a little late, or if we need to stay home completely and never change out of our PJs, blaring worship music until it’s time for a group nap.
The point is people don’t look down on each other for climbing under the covers each night to go to sleep. We must sleep. It’s how we’re made. The same is true of rest. If all we do is exhale, we’re not really breathing. And if we never spend time in a warm place under a cloth away from drafts, we’re not ever going to rise.
What helps you exhale, so you can inhale? What’s going to church like where you live? Give us a snap shot.