Ps 32:7: “God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.” (MSG)
This little verse nestled in the middle of Psalm 32 gives poetic imagery of the rest that God’s children can find in Him. We often talk about resting in God and the peace of God; this Psalm displays the experience of rest beautifully.
We’re not always good at resting though. We all get busy and distracted, swept up in a host of “important” things that sometimes are not all that important. We can often feel like no matter how much work we do, there’s always more to be done and we feel driven to strive on.
Sometimes we can even feel guilty about not working. We might feel as though we are letting others down, or letting God down, if we take a break. As though God can’t handle us being on holiday.
It’s a relief to remember that holidays were God’s idea. He famously rested after His work of creating the earth. He knew that rest was important and He gave us a demonstration of the balance between work and not-work.
I wonder if we sometimes forget that God really believes in and endorses our rest. He cares about our self-care and does not disapprove of our downtime. He empathises with our humanity – Christ understands that experience – and He knows what it is like to wear out.
If we believe that God supports our sabbaticals, perhaps it is we who secretly disapprove of our taking a break. Perhaps we feel that we must “earn” rest, or get permission from someone else to take a holiday. Some folk who engage in workaholism or who have perfectionistic beliefs can fall prey to this obligation of “earning” rest.
But the Bible does not necessarily support this. The Bible does promote good work ethics, such as working well for our masters and living with integrity. I’m not sure that it tells us to work unceasingly.
It can be hard to let go. It can be scary to fully relax, to stop completely. Some people fear that if they stop their frantic lifestyle, they will collapse or something bad will happen. Yet God invites us to rest and to be healed of these worries.
The reference above from Psalm 32 describes God both as a person and a place. God keeps danger away from us, throws hosanna garlands around our necks and is our resting place. Being with God means He can help us unwind and protect us from harm.
God is our island hideaway. He’s inviting us to His place, helping us to quiet down and find our equilibrium in Him. He longs for us to join Him there and join in His rest, as much as we long to take a rest.
Resting can be countercultural. It can take courage to resist the temptation of busyness. Saying no to those extra commitments can attract guilty feelings or negative reactions from others. But rest is good. I invite you to join me in countercultural rest in God.
With that in mind, I will be on holiday for the next 4 weeks. While I will not be blogging during that time, I will be posting on facebook and twitter so feel free to join me there. I would be glad of your company.
Here’s to holidays and to our ultimate Island Hideaway.