# 2 Sacred Rest – Pastor Skip Courter

“But now even more the report about Jesus went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:15-16

Occasionally I hear that people feel ashamed and embarrassed when they confess that they often fall asleep at night when praying evening prayers. Please, there is nothing here to confess! It is a sign of trust and safety. What better to have on your lips than the name of Jesus as you float off to rest? Therein lies the eternal connection between rest and prayer.

Jesus tells the crowd, “Come to me, all who toil and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What is prayer if it is not “coming” to Jesus? Rest is a precious ointment, a balm for the heavy heart. Jesus, for whom anything was possible, did not offer “seven secret coping skills” to get work done faster, or “four spiritual laws of stress control” to stay calm in crisis, or “ten guidelines for effective techniques in time management” to get the most productivity out of each hour. Instead, he offered the simple practice of rest as a natural, nourishing, and essential companion to our work.  “Learn from me,” Jesus invited, “and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus was busy with crowds around Him constantly. But Jesus would just as often send people away, disappear without warning, or dismiss those with need without excuse or explanation. Jesus did not wait until all were cared for, healed, or taught before He escaped. Most of the time, He didn’t even tell His disciples where He was going (a characteristic that really torched them off). When it was time for rest, Jesus stopped working!

And Jesus’ resting periods always involved prayer. Here He allowed His mind to find rest in His heart. Rest is rooted in prayer, an undeniable spiritual gravity that allows all things to settle, to find their comfort place, and enjoy the stillness.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, leads me besides still waters and restores my soul. Need I tell you where that comes from? Rest is a sanctuary in time where we make ourselves available to the insights and blessings that arise only in stillness and only in prayer.

So, on the seventh day God rested. Sowing, plowing, reaping, threshing, winnowing, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, spinning, weaving, hunting, slaughtering, building, hammering, and transporting are all Biblical Sabbath prohibitions (too bad the Hebrews hadn’t invented the microchip.) But beyond the negative legalism is the idea that by saying “no” to make some things happen, a deep permission arises for other things to happen.  Sabbath is the point in time and space created to say “yes” to God, embrace a sacred spirituality, practice deep prayer and above all, find rest.  Sabbath is our God given permission to pamper our soul.

God gave us a gift, a commandment, too rest. It’s not a suggestion. It falls under the same heading as stealing, murder, adultery, and lying.

A closer look at Genesis 2 reveals that “on the seventh day God finished his work…He rested on the seventh day…so God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” It is clear that the very first Sabbath was not a day off. On this seventh day God finished His work. He didn’t finish on day six. He wasn’t finished until day seven. Until the Sabbath was over, creation was unfinished. Only after the Sabbath, only after God rested, was the circle of creation made full and complete.

Up next: Silent Fear. Read Ecclesiastes 4:6