Hebrews 4:8-9 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
As I write this, I’m looking out the window at Pensacola Beach. I don’t normally write newsletter articles at the beach, but I’m taking a short sabbatical. The elders thought it would be good for me to get away for a few days, so I could have some time to read, pray and dream about the future of our church.
On one level, I’m very thankful to have the time away. May was a crazy month at the Treick house. We packed up and moved to a new house, which was (and is!) a big undertaking. It’s strange, because we only moved about 5 miles, but there’s still a lot of packing, unpacking, and organizing to do. (You temporarily lose a lot of things when you move, which is stressful. I remember spending 15 minutes one morning looking for my black socks. For some reason, I packed all my black socks in a box and I couldn’t remember which one!) On top of the move, our daughter has her big year-end dance recital this weekend … which means long practices, coordinating rides, and even learning my part for the Daddy-Daughter Dance! (Thankfully, they gave me a spot on the back row this year … so there’s a little less pressure on me!) Kate’s been busy with work, photographing somewhere around 100 dancers, trying to find a new studio space, decorating, planning, and coaxing me back when I get a little bit too close to the emotional ledge.
But even with all that going on … it’s still hard for me to rest! At one point, before my sabbatical, I even started scheduling my rest. I thought to myself, “Okay, when I wake up … I’ll spend an hour reading the Bible and praying … I’ll eat breakfast … I’ll go get some exercise … I’ll come back and read … I’ll journal … I’ll come back over the bridge to meet with this person and that person …” I found myself thinking about emails that would go unanswered, tasks that would go unfinished, and eventually I had to stop and ask myself a question. “Why can’t you let this go? Why is this so hard for you?”
I think the answer is … I have a hard time trusting God sometimes. Intellectually, I know that God is faithful, I know that he’s sovereign, I know that he loves me … but sin is irrational. Sin makes us forget the truth. Sin makes us doubt God’s promises. Sin makes us think, “If I don’t do this work … everything will fall apart!”
I think that’s why God invented the Sabbath. I think he built rest into the regular rhythm of our lives to remind us, “I’ve got this. I’m in control.” Sabbath forces us to re-think the nature of reality. It reminds us that we’re part of something much bigger … a story that God has been writing, and faithful men and women have been telling and re-telling, since the beginning of the world! When God created the world, he worked for six days, and rested on the seventh. When Jesus rose again and ascended to heaven, he sat down at the right hand of God. When Jesus comes back, he will call us to himself, and we will enter what the writer of Hebrews calls “a Sabbath rest” that “remains for the people of God.”
One of the things I love about God is his ability to put flesh and bones on abstract concepts and ideas. God could have simply explained what the end of the age will be like, but instead he allows us to experience a foretaste of it every Sunday morning. When Jesus comes again, he will meet all our physical needs … therefore, we can spend our Sundays resting from “such worldly employments … as are lawful on other days.” When Jesus comes again, we will be so overwhelmed by his glory and grace that we will worship him forever and ever … therefore, we can spend our Sundays “in the public and private exercises of God’s worship.” When Jesus comes again, there will be no more poverty, oppression, pain, or sorrow … therefore, we can spend our Sundays “taking up works of … mercy.” (See Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 60.)
What a gift! What a gift to be able to enter the age to come … every Sunday! It’s like we’re the children who were allowed to climb into Narnia … to experience the real world for the very first time! Are you making the most of that gift or are you neglecting it? Is Sunday a special day for you … or is it business as usual? Do you worship out of a sense of duty … or do you worship God out of a deep sense of gratitude for his grace? Do you see mercy, hospitality, and kindness as your opportunity to give a tiny taste of Sabbath rest to other people?
With all that in mind, I’m going to stop writing and get back to resting! I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will use these few days away to hit “control-alt-delete” on my sinful tendency to think that I’m in charge of everything. (I’m not!) I’m praying that he will use the Bible to press gospel truths deep into my heart! (How quickly do I forget!) I’m praying that he will remind me that he loves me more than I could ever imagine … and I’m also praying, that as God fills me up, I would joyfully pour myself out for you … over and over again … until the day God ushers me into that eternal Sabbath rest.
What if God made Pinewoods a place where weary people experienced God’s rest? Wouldn’t that be amazing? (I think it would!) May God make it so …