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Rest From Vacation

My husband and I just returned from a getaway celebrating our 9th anniversary. It was glorious—we had extended, uninterrupted time alone for the first time in a year-and-a-half. The only scheduled item on our agenda was a historic bike tour around Southport, NC. It was just the two of us and four wide-open days.

Though I was very aware that we were in need of a vacation, I’m a person who enjoys schedule and routine. I like to-do lists. I’m a “go-getter,” “let’s-get-it-done” kind of girl. So wide-open time with no agenda often reveals my tendency toward busyness of heart. I find myself, even on vacation, wanting to accomplish something. The first full day we were in Southport we slept in, made a delicious brunch, ate on the patio overlooking the intercostal waterway, and then I was ready to get moving with our vacation activities. We went for a run. We dressed for the beach, gathered the necessary gear, and as I opened my car door to get out at the public access point an earth-shaking clap of thunder boomed from the sky. I literally uttered the words, “Ok, Lord, we hear you,” as I retreated into the car.   We hunkered down for the rest of the day at the condo while 40 mph winds and an absolute monsoon fell upon the entire region.

As we settled into the couch with books and pre-season football on in the background I sensed an invitation from the Lord to true and deep rest. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m grateful that my gracious Father causes me to slow down when I’m not wise enough to do it on my own.

For me a lazy rainy day at the beach spent reading books and watching movies and eating good food is a picture of the gospel. It’s a shadow, a reminder of the rest that God offers me in Christ. Hebrews 4:9-10 states, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” This post is way too brief to do this text justice, but suffice it to say that the context makes clear that the writer is not speaking about a weekly day off.

Earlier in chapter 4 the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95, which refers to a story about the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness from Exodus 17. In Exodus 17, God refers to the Promised Land as His “rest,” but in Psalm 95 David implores his readers by stating, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” The author of Hebrews makes it plain that if the Promised Land was the ultimate rest to which God was referring in Exodus 17, there would be no need for David to speak of a coming rest because God’s people entered the Promised Land.

The Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God is the salvific ceasing from striving offered in Christ. In Him we no longer labor and toil and seek to prove ourselves, but we rest and receive the finished work of Christ on our behalf. We are no longer looking to build our own spiritual résumé, but we rest in the perfect merit of Jesus, our Savior.

That rainy day at the beach for me was a powerful picture of a spiritual reality in my life. As a daughter of the King I no longer need to prove myself, to be productive, or to be impressive. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, which, oh by the way, the author of Hebrews exhorts us to “strive to enter.” If I strive for anything may it be this: resting underneath the smile of God.

Jesus I am resting, resting
In the Joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
– Jean Sophia Pigott

To learn more about Ashlee or invite her to your next event visit HERE.

Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is the wife of a pastor, mom of two busy little ones, and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. She is passionate about communicating the truths of Scripture to women and magnifying Jesus as the All-Satisfying Treasure and Almighty Redeemer. She has lived in North Carolina for most of her life and loves making the most of the sidewalks and parks in her 1940s neighborhood. Ashlee enjoys healthy eating and exercising, but finds it nearly impossible to resist homemade cookies!

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