Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:3
"I'm not tired."
Every parent has heard those words as their child slips into a much-needed slumber. Children seem to fight sleep, even though it's good for them. I suppose they are afraid they will miss something. By the time we become adults, a nap sounds great -- just some rest. But the cares of this life are pressing. The concerns of work and family and medical needs will not wait for us to catch up on our sleep. And so we walk around knowing that we are tired, but also comprehending the reality that rest will simply have to wait.
Yet, in the Small Catechism Luther says something that has always stuck in my mind. After teaching believers to nightly say the Creeds, the Lord's Prayer, and a final evening prayer, he said, no matter what happened that day, "Then go to sleep at once and in good cheer."
Yes, get some rest!
You are probably saying, like me, "I wish I could." Well, you can! Just think about rest for a moment. It's even deeper, more revitalizing than mere refreshment from our exhaustion.
Genesis 2 says on the seventh day, God rested. We know how the creation story goes. After six days of creating, God rested on the seventh. But He wasn't tired. God wasn't worn out from the work of creating. God rested because the creation was complete as it should be. God rested because the goal of the creation week was achieved. It was good. Things were in harmony; everything was as it should be: at rest.
What if God's goal for your life is rest? Peace? What if the point of this life is that kind of rest with Him?
First, we need to realize our rest depravation doesn't just come from the fast pace of our modern world or the items on our to-do lists that never seem to end. Our rest depravation comes from our sin -- our brokenness -- our lives in an ever rebelliousness with the God who created us, redeemed us, the One who is the only true Source of refreshment and rest!
When Luther says to pray and "Then go to sleep at once and in good cheer," it wasn't that he didn't have a care in the world, at that moment. He had a lot of issues running through his mind. He was constantly in the middle of community and church squabbles and problems, often as the judge of an issue, or the one who was called upon to solve very real problems in people's lives.
No, he had some restless nights to be sure, but always in a restful, grace-filled confidence with the God who loved him and redeemed him.
If you need some rest today, the first place to start is with a clean conscience before God. And the way that can happen is to put your faith in the One who not only made all creation good, but the One who redeemed all creation from sin, death and the devil himself, on the cross of Calvary.
God the Father's goal in creation was rest. He had accomplished that goal in His Son Jesus. He gives that rest and peace to you. You might say it this way: Jesus is the Goal of creation. He is the Goal of the Scriptures. He is the Goal of our life. He is the Source of your needed rest, right now too.
So, after your prayers tonight, go to sleep at once and in good cheer; but if you find yourself struggling to sleep, then rest in the promise that whatever you are facing, Christ has already conquered it for you.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, in my exhaustion -- an exhaustion that comes from a rat race kind of life or with worry I can't seem to overcome -- give me the rest and peace that comes from knowing that my life is ultimately secure in Your hands. You created me. You redeemed me, and You are with me. That's a recipe for rest, for sure. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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