By Pastor Nathan Richardson Heartland Community Church, La Porte City
Rest is the best commandment
A blizzard in the Midwest can become a windy and snowy mess creating whiteout conditions. I read that farmers would prepare for a blizzard by tying a rope from the barn to the house. In this the farmer in whiteout conditions would always be able to find their way back home. This may seem a bit extreme but when you are unable to see you can easily be turned around and head in the wrong direction maybe even walking in circles.
It reminds me of the Israelites after they had left captivity in Egypt. They wanted nothing more than to go back home. But due to some poor decisions were unable to go home for 40 years. They wandered in an aimless direction without any focus.
I can become misdirected when my priorities are off. To keep my priorities on point I need to go back to the basics to remind myself what God really wants for my life. Moses did this for the Israelites by reminding them before they head into the promise land. He read to them the 10 Commandments to help them remember what was important.
One of those commandments can be read in Deuteronomy 5:12-15. For me this is the one command that shows God is looking out for me and what is best for my life. If followed it is also the one that helps me keep my focus.
12“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”
God made the Sabbath first for himself. He rested on the seventh day after six days of creation. God modeled the need for rest. Can you believe that we have a command for rest? This should be the most followed commandment of God. We literally have to do nothing to follow it. Yet it may be one of the most resisted commands due to the culture of busy. Americans love to stay busy.
Sabbath is a weekly reminder to stop and rest. If we do not rest exhaustion wins out, our body breaks down and sickness will prevail. Back in the days of the Oregon Trail many people moved their families out west to start a new life. One wagon train left from St. Louis. Some of the group decided they were going to follow the Sabbath by resting and worshipping. The other group felt it was important to arrive in Oregon as early as they could to become established before the winter hit. The group that rested arrived before the other group. The rest allowed them to be more productive the other six days of travel. Over productivity becomes counter intuitive.
God really knows what he is doing by giving us these commands. You have permission to slow down and rest. Try it out. See how it goes. God knows best. He is looking out for you and your health. Rest is really the best commandment.