Happy finals season! Yes, this post’s timing is intentional. My spring semester is a week from ending. Before I go home, eat food made in my own kitchen, and of course, sleep, I’ve got four finals to take, two big projects to finish at work, and a room to pack. It’s very easy to look at a to-do list like that and write off rest. But in this end-of-year season, it’s more important than ever to reflect on what rest is and why we are called to do it.
God has equipped each one of us with gifts and talents, and it’s good to strive to exercise those gifts well. However, when we spend all our time and energy pushing our bodies and brains to the limit, producing papers and exams and filling all seven days of our calendar with earthly pursuits, we leave out a crucial part of the puzzle. Our end goal is not to produce or excel, but to glorify God. In order to do that well, we have to rest. In fact, we’re called to it.
Ana once described Sabbath rest as “fasting from work,” and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. If you’re like me, not having something to do drives you a little crazy. Resting on the Sabbath isn’t always easy, especially when your work is objectively important. Finals, papers, and end-of-year performances have to get done, after all. But rest isn’t procrastination or avoiding your responsibilities. It’s consciously stepping away from your work and toward the fountain of Life, ready to be filled – and it allows you to return to that work with a fresh perspective.
We rest because on the seventh day of creation, God rested from all of the work he did in the six days before, and he blessed that day and made it holy (Genesis 2:3). We are made in His image, and we follow His example. We rest because we have been commanded to do so (Exodus 20:8-11). Israel was commanded to rest so that they might know that God sanctifies them (Exodus 31:13). Lastly, we rest as we look forward to the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).
Rest is a gift. It allows us time and space to read God’s Word. It frees us to have fellowship with other believers and to worship God with abandon rather than scheduling Him tightly into our calendars. It reminds us that we’re not in control. It is a small opening of our palms, an offering of our time to God. It reminds us that He provides, not us; His work saves, not ours.
Rest is good during slow weeks, winter breaks, and family vacations, but it’s life-changing in the middle of finals season. The busier we get, the easier it is to make our work our identity. The busier we get, the more we need a reminder that our busy-ness does not define our worth. The busier we get, the more we need a Sabbath.
If you are staring at a to-do list that feels long and overwhelming, full of things to do and people to see, take a minute. Breathe. The God who formed the stars and the sea did it all in six days and rested the seventh, and He’s granted you a taste of that same rest now as you wait for its perfect, eternal fulfillment. Come to Him, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and He will give you rest.