Active rest was infused into the fitness industry years ago. Active rest means that during your exercise or workout, instead of sitting on a bench to rest, you are doing one of three things: (1) stretching, (2) hydrating, (3) fine tuning your form. Active rest is sometimes referred to as active recovery which means you are improving your body while you're working not just after.
What we do during our rest time matters whether we are exercising or taking a break from our labors. I don't believe for one minute God intended people to just sit back and do nothing for Sabbath. I learned from a great teacher in Israel that Sabbath was meant to 'soak in God's Word and presence with your family.' WOW! Now that's a lot different than 'refrain from work.' As I listened to the teacher share his insights, I imagined my family gathered together at a meal. We shared personal stories of triumph and challenge anticipating input from the people gathered around us. We also read God's Word and learned to apply God's thoughts and standards to our situations. It is easy to envision but magnificently unrealistic in my situation. I have some training to do if I truly want to honor God with my rest.
One way to interpret the Creation story is to think of the Sabbath Day as the ultimate pinnacle. Sabbath can be the summit where we connect with God and a sense of accomplishment for all our labor. Genesis 2 records it this way: By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 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 2:1-2 NIV)
The WOW Factor
The summit is a place of active rest and where we can experience 'the WOW factor.' We can take it all in. Physically, our body is stretched. We become acquainted with an intense need for oxygen and we are very much aware of the vigorous labor required to reach the summit. Mentally, our heart and mind may engage with the breath-taking view from the summit. The expansive beauty of the surroundings can fine-tune our emotional, psychological and intellectual status. Spiritually, some people discover they experience an awakening or much needed sacred reset. The summit can help us accept reality. Our triumphs or challenges are small things in comparison to the great things of God.
To journey beyond the summit would be impossible without hydration. Water replenishes the complex system of the human body. Elite athletes and weekend explorers alike empty water containers or guzzle Gatorade restoring balance to the body's depletion. Water has enormous significance in God's Word. Water wipes out the sin of the earth in Noah's story found in Genesis. Water is divided for Israel's crossing from slavery and separates them from the Promised Land in Exodus. Water cleanses mundane things like cups and makes them holy in Leviticus. Later in God's epic narrative, water becomes significant to followers of Jesus as an initiation into the New Covenant. Remember your baptism and keep it holy.
Survival Practice #2 is the practice of saying no.
Redeem your Sabbath time this summer. Determine now to say no to mindless scattered wandering through the weekend or long-anticipated vacation. The summer months are prime time for us to rest, relax, and refresh. Be intentional. Find meaning and purpose in accomplishments before moving onto the next. Take a second look at things that may have turned out differently than you expected. Treat your vacation as holy time to draw closer to God and perhaps find a way to include Sabbath practice more frequently into your life. God knew from the beginning we would be tempted to define our worth in our accomplishments. God's desire is for you and me to draw closer to him and experience his love for us as sons and daughters. From the summit of his loving presence, everything pales in comparison and we can bask in his 'WOW factor.'
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." Exodus 20:8 NIV