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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


 

Daily Boost

June 27, 2013 - Got Rest?

By Scott Harrup

"Shattered," a 2004 British reality TV program, had a simple premise: Deprive 10 participants of sleep for a week and offer 100,000 pounds to the winner. Staying awake for a week may sound like child's play for a six-figure monetary reward, but the results proved otherwise.

Contestants endured disorientation, paranoia and even hallucinations. "It was like torture," one man said on leaving the show.

In fact, sleep deprivation is a very real and widely used form of torture. It typically leaves no visible marks, yet radically damages the physical and emotional state of the victim. One pastor who was imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain described the agony of being kept awake for days on end, made to stand the entire time staring at a white wall.

And no wonder. The need for rest is hard-wired into all of us from creation.

God established night and day at the world's beginning (Genesis 1:3-5,14-18). Throughout history, animals and people have alternated activity and rest during the cycles of each day.

Genesis 2:2 says that God himself rested on the seventh day of creation when He completed the cosmos. As the all-powerful Creator, He had no need to recuperate His own strength. Rather, God set an example for all of us to follow. Jesus explained in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath guidelines of the Law were made to serve humanity's needs.

So, just as day and night continue to naturally regulate our sleep each 24 hours, Sabbaths continue to call for a regular abatement of activity each week.

Christ's death and resurrection completely and forever fulfilled the law of Moses. Christians don't have to worry about breaking God's Law if they prepare a meal or do a necessary task on Sunday. But the concept of the Sabbath was never repudiated in Scripture. The New Testament just offers more flexibility in how a Sabbath can be observed (Romans 14:5,6).

God created us to enjoy regular rest in life. We keep trying to buck this ordained system. Factories run around the clock; the Internet never sleeps; faxes hum, cellphones ring, and radio and television stations offer uninterrupted broadcasts.

All the while, God is calling people to get off the nonstop treadmill of life and enjoy the kind of rest He built into the fabric of creation. This rest goes beyond sleep, or even the weekly observance of a day of rest. God's plan offers to immerse the weary life voyager in rest at all times, regardless of the challenge.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety," David wrote in Psalm 4:8 (NIV). David's life was threatened more times than he could count.

As a young man David faced Goliath, fought the Philistines, and fled from King Saul. As a maturing king, David dealt with seven years of civil war and done battle with the heathen nations surrounding Israel. In his later years David's own son led a rebellion and tried to kill him.

David didn't float through life denying the reality of his challenges. Psalm 4 begins with an impassioned plea: "Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer." David experienced distress, but he knew were to find relief.

David touched on a common obstacle to rest. "When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. [Selah]" (v. 4). When we quiet our surroundings and try to sleep, suppressed thoughts naturally rise to the surface. We run mental checklists of every obligation and worry and regret.

This heart searching can be unsettling. David had a solution. After the search, be silent. "Selah" is interpreted different ways, but means something like "quietly ponder."

Next, David identified the key to restful, inner peace: "Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord" (v. 5).

Jesus, totally God and totally man, offered all of us a round-the-clock example of what it means to live in communion with our Creator. His example included the ability to rest in the middle of turmoil.

In Matthew 8:24-26 you can read of a storm the disciples faced one night crossing the Sea of Galilee -- which might better be described as Lake Galilee but could whip up a seaworthy storm without notice. The disciples fought to stay afloat, desperate for their lives. Jesus slept in the back of the boat.

"Don't you care that we're going to drown?" the disciples asked.

Jesus' reply? A quiet rebuke to their lack of faith and a simple command that stilled the waves and silenced the storm.

Jesus wanted the disciples to make the transition from fear and frustration to faith. In that faith, they could rest as He did in the complete assurance of God's control. When you have established a loving relationship with God, continued and growing faith becomes the key ingredient of real rest.

Are you struggling with stress? When you hope for a good night's sleep do you end up staring at the shifting readout of your alarm clock? Regardless of the source of your anxiety, within your relationship with God lies the solution. Shore up the weak areas there and you are sure to strengthen the quality of your daily rest.

Imagine a day that begins as you wake up refreshed from a deep and peaceful sleep. Imagine going through that day trusting God to be with you regardless of the challenges you face. Imagine coming to the end of that day rejoicing in God's faithfulness, even through life's difficulties and sorrows, and anticipating what He wants to do in your life tomorrow.

Sweet dreams.

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).

 

 

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