When God gave the Ten Commandments to his people through Moses, the fourth one was to remember the Sabbath. Exodus 20:8-10 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…”
Having a Sabbath day accomplished two things. It was a day given to the Lord. And it was a day of rest for the people.
In Exodus 16, the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness and complaining to Moses about food. Verse 4 says “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.’” Some people did not trust God to provide each day, so they tried to gather extra. By morning, it was rotten and unable to be eaten. However, verse 22 says that on the sixth day, they were to gather twice as much bread than they needed. Verse 23 “…Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord.”
Verse 29-30: “’See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ So the people rested on the seventh day.”
God had already provided enough for them on Day 6 so that they didn’t need to worry or work on Day 7.
Our family has been going through a season where we need some rest. I was talking to someone recently, and I said, “This is just too much for any human to handle.” Even as I said the words aloud, I knew the answer. God never asked us to handle any battle on our own. I’ve been reading the gospels again lately, and I keep going back to the time when Peter walked on the water. If I compare myself to Peter, I think I can confidently say that I would have gotten out of the boat too. Some people, when faced with scary things, tend to go into “analysis paralysis.” They might think and analyze and weigh the pros and cons so much that it leaves them paralyzed and immobile. That’s not me. I do research and pray and look at all options, but at the end of the day, I’m willing to step out. Once Peter stepped out, he took his eye off Jesus and started focusing on the mighty winds around him. He became afraid and began to sink.
In CrossFit, I have many, many weaknesses. But one thing I can usually count on as being a strength is my focus. During a difficult movement or workout, I tend to find a spot on the wall to focus on. I breathe and don’t take my eye off of that mark as I complete each rep one at a time. Usually there are barbells flying around the room, music blaring through the speakers, and loud noises everywhere, but I don’t even notice. I just focus and keep moving.
I have made it a practice to get into the same spiritual habit. I try to start each day focusing on God, reading His word, praying and meditating in order to fix my eyes on Him. Then when the winds rage around me, I can be firm and confident on the solid rock of Jesus.
This has been such a tough season, though. I didn’t feel like wind and waves were around me. I felt like someone had thrown a net over me, pulled me under the water and was holding me there while hitting me over and over. Every day, I scrambled around and worked myself crazy trying to find a solution, to no avail. Everywhere I turned looked like a dead end. Nothing and nobody seemed to be able to help. I prayed and prayed and questioned where God was in all of this.
My problem was not stepping out of the boat or losing focus. My problem was continuing to believe that the One I was focusing on would keep me afloat until the end.
On several occasions, as different people would ask how things were going and I would share just a little bit with them, they would all make the same statement. “I just wish you could rest.” The concept was laughable in my mind. Yes! I wish I could too! But today when I read Luke 23-24, something jumped out at me that I had never really paid attention to before. Jesus had been crucified. In verse 55 the women were there. I noted several verbs that they did, or actions that they took. They had come, followed, observed the tomb, returned, and prepared spices and oils for his body.
Then. They. Rested.
There was still lots of work to do. I’m sure they were tempted to go into panic mode in their minds about what had just happened to Jesus. But as was the commandment, they rested on the Sabbath.
As good workers, the day after they rested, they got up “very early in the morning” (chapter 24:1) and came to the tomb to bring the spices they had prepared. But guess what they found? The stone had been rolled away. The body of Jesus was not there.
As they rested, He was working.
Verse 4 says they were “greatly perplexed.”
They were focused on the job that they were doing for Jesus, but did not fully understand or remember the power of God.
They carried out their role, but ultimately it was His work to do. In His perfect timing. To His glory.
Two angels had to remind the women of the promises that were made to them by Jesus before this tragedy occurred. Then verse 8 says that “they remembered His words.” It’s easy to forget sometimes when the enemy is attacking the truths about Jesus. Nevertheless, He has still overcome.
So the women returned and told all of this to everyone. I love what Luke 24:11 says. “Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they [the other people] did not believe them.” I feel like I often have this problem. God does some mighty, mighty things that our family is able to witness on a regular basis. I feel the responsibility to share as much of it as I can, to His glory. But often, even as I’m saying it aloud, it sounds outrageous and not easily understood if you are not personally experiencing it. So lots of times, I end up doing what Peter did here. Verse 12 says that Peter ran to the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying by themselves. Then “he departed, marveling to himself what had happened.” So many times, I observe how God steps in right on time with exactly what we need and does exceedingly, abundantly above what we could have even asked of Him. And I take a deep breath, close my eyes, shake my head and marvel to myself at what just happened.
I feel that this is a bit of a different post than usual, but I wanted to share what I’ve been walking through in hopes that others might relate. I know of many people who have scary things going on and feel overwhelmed right now. I think that God would remind you to: Yes, have faith and do the work He has intended for you to do. But also to remember to rest and let Him do his work, to His glory, in His perfect timing. Then just as the women and Peter did, we can tell everyone and marvel at what has happened.
“…Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15