What seduces us away from true rest?

This series of posts is on the topic of Sabbath and true rest. Each one contains a principle, a question to help translate the principle into everyday life, and a spiritual exercise to help you practice the principle.

Principle: We know we need Sabbath rest, but often we get caught in the doom loop of being seduced and enslaved by other things, which weakens us and dulls our sense of God, which then makes us more vulnerable to further seduction.

It’s easy for us to be seduced by things that look like they’ll give us rest but end up not delivering. We can all think of examples: surfing the Internet, watching TV, reading more rather than sleeping, going out when we should be staying in. And then when we engage in them, we come out less rested, which only makes us more vulnerable to getting sucked in further. Also, the more we engage in them, the more enslaved we become and the more we show the effects of enslavement. These effects include: an inability to put the thing down, resentment, defensiveness about the activity, debt, and most importantly, dullness toward God and what He’s doing.

Yet the saving acts of God free us from the bonds of slavery. One of my favorite Bible passages in this regard is Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Here, Moses reads the Ten Commandments to Israel for the second time, but in this case, he changes the reason behind the command to keep the Sabbath. The first time, Israel was to keep the Sabbath because God rested on the seventh day of Creation. But in this case, Israel was to keep the Sabbath because they used to be slaves in Egypt before God liberated them. In other words, Sabbath is to be a reflection of the freedom the people of God have because of what God has done.

Question: How do we know whether something is restful or only appearing that way?

Try the gratitude test (see 1 Tim. 4:4). Before the activity, say to God, “Lord, I’m really thankful that I get to do ___ right now.” And then after the activity, say to God, “Lord, I’m really glad that I got to do ___ and feel refreshed.” See if your soul agrees with what you’ve said or if there’s something in you that isn’t thankful. Talk with God about whatever reactions you have.

Exercise: Create Sabbath for someone else

Let me illustrate this idea with a story: A Chinese man gets to take a tour of hell and heaven. He gets to hell, and what he sees is a great banquet, filled with the finest foods. But everyone is unhappy, because all they have to eat with are 5-foot-long chopsticks, which are too long for them to get the food into their mouths. He then goes to heaven, and he’s surprised to see the exact same banquet scene. However, everyone there is unbelievably happy and joyful. Why? Because they’re using their 5-foot-long chopsticks to feed each other.

What would it be to create Sabbath for someone else? Help someone else break the doom loop, just as God broke the bonds of slavery for us. A followers of Jesus, it’s imperative for us to do it as members of the same body and the same family. If one of us suffers from a lack of true rest, then we all suffer. Let’s help each other because then we all benefit.

Suggestions: Bring a meal to another family every week. It’s the same amount of work as cooking for yourself, but it feels better because you’re serving someone else, and the person receiving it is super-happy. You could even agree to take turns with that family so you each get a “free day.” Take one of your rest times and give it to your spouse as an offering. “Break in” to your friend’s house and clean it while he’s on vacation.

Question: What seduces you away from true rest? What do you do for true rest?

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  • For me, two things keep me from true rest: (1) worrying about things I can’t control, (2) doing things I can control but can wait another day. Neither my mind nor my body get rest when I give in to these things.

    On a true Sabbath, if I’m disciplined enough, I practice the 3 R’s: Relax, Reflect, Relate. Relax from work and take some needed relief from it. Reflect on what God has done in my life and consider the blessings I have. Relate with God, my family, and my friends.

    So, if someone asks me what I do with my day off, I tell them “I’m going to get some R&R&R!”

    I go into more detail about the my approach to the Sabbath here:

    http://aapastor.wordpress.com/2007/06/28/three-rs-sabbath/

    • andrewcyee

      Thanks Daniel. Very helpful way of thinking about Sabbath.

    • Daniel Lui

      those 3 r’s are actually kinda deep tbh