This week I’m sharing part three of my Rest series, originally published in Arkansas Baptist News. I wrote this as the busyness of Thanksgiving and Christmas were descending upon me. But, in all honesty, the last two months have been no less crazy. I definitely needed this reminder to glorify God sacrificially, even in those times when all I can think of is my need for rest!
The holiday season is upon us! As an introverted homebody, sometimes the busyness of this season throws me for a loop. I do love it. I love the decorations and the celebrations. I enjoy the parties and the events, even if I sometimes have to pry myself out of the warm house to attend them.
But I also need rest. And I am not quite sure I like the next lesson God has been teaching me about rest. You see, in addition to learning that rest is relational and expected, I am also learning that rest is sacrificial.
I have always been pretty selfish about rest. My opinion has always been that I need it, and I need it my way, or it doesn’t count. But when my husband and I had a conversation about a couple of passages of Scripture, I found my selfishness challenged.
In Acts 16:13, we see Paul heading down to the riverside in hopes of meeting people gathered there to pray. I have never though much about that action until Doug made a thought-provoking observation. He pointed out that Paul’s trip outside the city on the Sabbath was a sacrificial act. It was outside his norm. It was outside the parameters of rest he had been taught during his formative years.
Paul made a sacrifice.
So, where was he when he made this sacrifice? He was in Philippi. He was making the contacts that would eventually result in the Philippian church. The same Philippian church that brought him incredible joy, according to verses like Philippians 1:3. In fact, it could be argued from Scripture that this particular church provided Paul’s greatest source of strength and encouragement.
But it all started with a sacrifice.
One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 3:13. I have always loved the idea of encouragement among believers. But, as I look at Paul’s sacrificial investment in the Philippian church – and the return it brought – I see Hebrews 3:13 in a new light. I see that we receive our greatest encouragement, strength, and support when we are willing to sacrifice for one another, even in rest.
Now, sacrificial rest does require care because it still must be rest. It cannot become just another source of busyness. But, what would happen if we were willing to put aside our selfish conceptions of rest and determine instead to rest in fellowship with our fellow believers?
As the busy schedule presses in, I pray God will show me exactly how to rest sacrificially – and that He will allow even my rest to bear the fruit of joy and encouragement for others.