y his own admission, this book is written by someone who “doesn’t do rest” and he calls himself “a rest failure”. Equally, this is someone who has learnt the hard way that we need rest. If we don’t rest, we will break.
This book is worth a look by everyone—especially those like me who could be prone to thinking: “I’m too busy to rest”; “only I can do this job”, “I have so much to do”. Rest can feel a waste, but as this book by Mabry describes, learning to practise the art of rest as the Bible describes it—Sabbath rest—is a delight.
If you are anything like me, I can immediately respond to the thought of resting with questions—how do I “do” rest? Ironically, the thought of resting can itself feel like hard work. But I would really recommend you take a second look at this book and at how you approach rest. It is not a rule book, but full of delightful and provoking thoughts. Reading it over breakfast one morning, I found myself with my spoon hanging mid-air and my mouth open at some of the powerful statements. There aren’t many books that have done that to me.
But we are made to enjoy and experience rest by God. Sabbath rest is a gift to us, not a set of rules to obey. But it is up there in the commandments, along with not killing anyone… Now there is a thought to ponder.
There is a lot of biblical material to ponder—worth savouring. He talks very powerfully about how Israel’s lack of “remembering” to keep the Sabbath had a huge impact on the nation and its turning away from God. It’s noteworthy that we are commanded to “remember” the Sabbath and keep it holy. There is intentionality here. We need to remember, otherwise rest won’t just happen. If it is something we are commanded to experience, then it’s worth considering why we find it so hard to practise. And it is more about practising than doing—an art, not a set of rules. I loved his comment “like music is the gift of the composer to the player, so Sabbath rest is the gift of Jesus to us.” Experiencing Sabbath rest is essentially relational as we “remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.” We practice the art, with God.
Have you ever thought about what God was doing before creation? I certainly haven’t. Mabry suggests he was enjoying loving within the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit loving and enjoying each other in the unity of the Trinity. In creation, God saw what he had made and said it was good, not just once, but many times. When he made man and woman, that was very good. And on the seventh day God rested—not because he was tired after his hard work of creating—but in triumph, to enjoy it. And, I think, we can safely assume that Adam and Eve joined in… the first thing they did was rest with God, enjoying the Sabbath day—holy to the Lord.
We are made in His image, therefore, we should rest like God and with God. Our view of who God is and what He is like, kicks in here too—do we want to spend time with Him? Restful time with Him? Do we enjoy Him and our relationship with Him?
But there is another thing to ponder—another one of those jaw-dropping moments for me. If I don’t rest, what am I actually saying? Who is actually ruling in my life? What do I really believe? Do I believe He is creator and I am created? Am I so full of anxiety that I feel I have to work? How about this thought, that anxiety is an indication of unbelief? Thinking about that makes perfect sense—rest is a declaration that we trust God: “God who made the world rules the world and I trust him to do better than me.”
Consider what Mabry describes as lies of the enemy—that “I am what I do”, that “If I stop, life won’t work” and, the real kicker, “God has given me too much to do”. Resting is a way of declaring our resistance to these lies. We revel in our identity in Christ and trust Him. We rest in our identity in Christ—given by grace not by works.
The book does get practical—but remember, rest is an art, to be practised and savoured. He encourages us to build rest into each day, each week, each year.
So, I hope I have whetted your appetite to take a look and enjoy this book. You will enjoy delving into all the scripture—I will leave you to do that. But whatever you do, please enjoy the adventure and delight of practising the art of rest—God’s gift to us.