Rest doesn’t come easy for this born and raised Georgia girl who grew up with a “work hard, play hard” mentality. I’m guessing, as Christmas approaches, Sabbath rest doesn’t come easy for most women no matter where we grew up.
When the first day of December rolls around, we’re filled with excitement and expectancy for what the holidays can be. While the days grow shorter with the end of daylight savings time, our to-do lists, party guest lists, and gift lists grow longer. With so much vying for our attention, we struggle to keep pace; by Christmas morning we feel completely worn out—searching for the “Merry” in our Christmas.
It’s an honor to cultivate spaces for loved ones to gather in to enjoy delicious food, play interactive games, and engage in lots of laughter. But no matter how deep into our Christmas craziness we already are, it’s never too late to realize the value in taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of those we love effectively.
We can look to Jesus as our benchmark and be grateful for how He recognized His own need for rest while here on earth.
Come With Me
In Mark 6, Jesus had returned to His hometown of Nazareth where He was rejected by His own family (another Christmas gathering learning point for another day). While Jesus taught in nearby villages, He dispatched His disciples in pairs to teach, preach, heal the sick, and perform miracles. Jesus’ twelve came back only to find many people coming to see this man they had heard so much about. They were exhausted and weren’t taking the time to eat or even take a break. Jesus said to them,
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”(Mark 6:31 NIV)
Jesus could have gone away by Himself to a quiet place to rest, as He’d done many times before. But how special this particular Scripture is in helping us catch a tender glimpse of the gracious love and concern Jesus has for His friends, the disciples. Jesus noticed their lavishing efforts poured out over the people they had been assigned to love, serve, and speak lifegiving truths of healing into. I can’t help but think He wanted to go with them because He was the rest they needed. He is the rest you and I need, too.
With compassion, Jesus understands our getting caught up in details pertaining to the holiday season; but, what if, like the disciples, we accepted Jesus’ kind and considerate invitation to come away with Him to a quiet place to rest for a while? Imagine the sense of rest He’d bring to the chaos we’ve created? How refreshed we’d be after retreating from the crowded grocery lines, stressful postal lines, and mile-long mall check-out lines, to rest—His calming presence hushing our Christmas rushing. That’s what Sabbath rest does. It resets our minds, eases our undone emotions, and brings us into quiet worship and genuine gratitude for the gifts He’s entrusted to us. It is in the quiet that we are reminded of the important tasks He’s given us that are, sometimes, undervalued in our culture: loving, serving, and speaking healing words over those we love at Christmas, as modern-day disciples.
Experiencing a Sweet Sabbath Hush
We can look back to biblical history to be reminded of the importance of rest. The Jewish Sabbath is observed throughout the year on Saturday, the seventh day of the week, and intended to commemorate the day God rested, after completing creation. I love the thought of God resting after a busy season of creating because we can experience rest even in this busy time of year when adding unrealistic creative extras seems our norm.
In the Old Testament, the ark of the covenant was the place where God’s Spirit rested. No one could approach the ark or touch it because it was holy, and man is sinful. But God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died the death we deserved then rose again giving us access to His Holy Spirit. With Christ’s death the veil between the tabernacle and the holy of holies, where the ark was kept, tore from top to bottom, allowing the blessing of God’s presence with us daily—His power and His rest within us. In our sweet Sabbaths with Jesus, let’s be thankful for:
Immanuel (God with us) Isaiah 7:14—We can now experience intimacy with God.
The people God has entrusted to us 2 Timothy 2:2—We should view ourselves as modern-day disciples on a mission.
Time, giftings, and opportunities to serve and love others 1 Peter 4:10-11—Life is short; make it count.
The gift of God’s one and only Son, Jesus, who left the glory of heaven, came to earth as a baby in a manger to redeem the world Titus 2:14—We are free to embrace the world in love.
Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection John 3:16—We have hope beyond our seemingly hopeless situations.
God’s holy presence at rest within us, His daughters, makes all things possible Matthew 19:26—We are now the temple where God’s Spirit resides. Jesus is as close as the whisper of His name.
As you ponder these things, think of those whom you’ll be spending time with this holiday season. Take a moment to envision each face, and remember these are souls entrusted to you. Never for a moment do we need to play the martyr because Jesus sees our pouring out and recognizes our need for rest. We can stop fretting about the many details yet to be completed, accepting Jesus’ kind invitation to come away with Him to a quiet place to rest for a while.
I chuckle, thinking how Jesus knows our tendencies to fill our days with busyness. We need His gentle tugs on our apron strings—reminding us to slip away with Him to a corner of the house, after everyone’s tummies are filled with carbohydrates. We can exhale, lower our shoulders to let go of Christmas responsibilities, and be reminded that the entire world and every circumstance of our lives are under the authority of heaven.
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1).
Envision God’s holy feet propped upon the earth as His footstool and embrace the comfort and peace of knowing He chose to build His home inside of you, His beloved daughter. You are never alone.
I pray your Christmas Sabbath moments are as sweet, refreshing, and satisfying as the delicious desserts you create.
Merry Christmas, Friend!
“Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NIV
LaTan Roland Murphy is a lover of people and strong coffee. She is a sought-after speaker and award-winning writer who finds encouraging others her passion and purpose. Speaking with candid humility and raw honesty, LaTan draws from her own real-life mistakes and failures, inspiring audiences with hilarious personal stories. She and her husband, Joe, recently celebrated thirty-eight years of marriage. They will be the first to tell you they are still growing up together. She and Joe have three adult children: two sons and a daughter. They are blessed to have a loving son-in-law and daughter-in-law who feel more like biological children. In her spare time LaTan enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren, who totally captivate her heart.
Visit me at: http://latanmurphy.com
Author of: Courageous Women of the Bible
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Beautiful words my friend and such a good reminder!
We couldn’t agree more! LaTan’s words are so perfect for this season!
I enjoyed reading this so much! What a lovely reminder during this busy season to rest and worship our King. It is for Him after all.
Just what I needed to be reminded of this season! Thanks for sharing, LaTan!