For every hike I go on, there comes a time when I reach the point when I need to rest.
Sometimes it happens frequently along a difficult pass. Other times it’s just because I’ve reached the apex and the view around me begs me to just “be” there amongst the beauty.
I can assure you that hiking would be less appealing to me if it weren’t for those times of rest.
Lately I’ve been really drawn to studying things about the Hebrew cultures and traditions. (I’m sure I’ll be posting soon about some of those things!) But the first thing I want to share is my experience with one of God’s commandments that we struggle with today more so than any of the others.
That is -the 4th commandment.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
I want to explore God’s reason for making this commandment with you today. To be honest, I used to think this was one of the silliest commandments ever. I thought this commandment was one of those “because I said so” type of rules that nobody really cared about anymore. I thought it was all about giving the Pharisees something to nitpick about. I thought it was just God’s way of placing a rule upon the people that wouldn’t be easy to keep.
The other commandments, like “thou shalt not kill, lie, steal, and commit adultery”… those I understood and had no issues with keeping. I could see the benefit to humankind instantly!
Then I started learning about science. I believe that God and science are VERY compatible and I love looking at God’s ways through the lens of what science tells us to be true.
Do you know what the strongest predictor of life-long mental health is?
Being able to quiet your mind, body and soul after a joyful experience or after an upsetting experience is considered the key to maintaining a healthy mental/emotional life.
I have a few synonyms I’d like to use for the word quieting: Rest and Shalom.
You’ve probably read my writings about joy before. Joy is the experience that someone is glad to be with me.... in good times and in bad times. Joy is typically felt as a high energy, dopamine releasing, make you want to smile type of experience.
It’s physically impossible to maintain that high energy experience all the time. The body simply cannot handle it for long!
But there is another side to the coin I call Joy. That flip side is what we call Shalom.
Shalom is more than just a Hebrew greeting. Shalom is the quiet peacefulness that comes after the high energy event that occurs with joy. Shalom is the quieting that your body naturally requires after expelling energy. Shalom is “everything in the right amount at the right time”*. Shalom is that “taking the time to smell the roses” feeling.
Shalom is the low tide to every high tide of joy.
Shalom is the tender intimacy in the arms of your spouse after the rush of passionate joy.
Shalom is the deep breaths I take at the top of a mountain after hiking a journey of rocks and boulders.
Shalom follows both joy and difficult times.
In the Bible, shalom is almost always the reward that follows joy.
Shalom is the gift. Joy is the wrapper.
Scientifically, rest is always required after the expulsion of energy. Without rest, the body will wear out.
Now, back to that 4th commandment.
Go ahead, be like a 4 year old and ask what I asked unspoken…. WHY?
The answer I believe is always “BECAUSE I LOVE YOU”. Not “because I said so”.
Keeping the Sabbath “holy” gives us the rest we need. Keeping the Sabbath lets us see how important it is for us to keep the rhythm of up and down front and center.
There are tons of scriptures about rest.
There are tons of times when God asks us to “be still”.
He’s not asking us to do something just because He did. He’s asking us to recognize that we were made in HIS IMAGE… and He knows that rest is a necessary ingredient for sustained life.
Do you know what else happens when we allow ourselves to rest and tap into that Shalom?
It’s in those moments that we connect with Him most deeply.
It’s in the moments of rest, shalom, and quieting that we can begin to hear His still small voice whisper.... “Because I love you”.
As you begin to grow your joy, don’t forget the importance of taking your rest as well. After all, it is His commandment.
*for more information about this definition of Shalom, check out Joy Starts Here