Rest and Restoration

Brothers and sisters,

First, I wanted to thank all of you for the gifts and cards you all gave me for my birthday this past week! I felt very loved and I am grateful that I can serve with a group of caring people like you all. Thank you! Also, thank you all for letting me have the night of my birthday off. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed the Bulls game, especially since the Bulls beat the Jumbo Shrimp (yes, that was the other team’s name), 8-2! Thank you!

This past weekend actually reminded me of a concept that comes up a lot in the Bible, but that we often don’t pay as much attention to as we should. After the Bulls game Wednesday night, I came to work the next day and, once the workday was over, I made my way down to the coast to spend some more time with my friends. We had a good time catching up with each other, reminiscing about old times together, playing games and swapping stories about our lives now. We also spent a day on the beach (I have the sunburn to prove it!), playing bocce, swimming, and walking along the sand. We ate good food together. We wandered around downtown Swansboro together. They showed me the shops and restaurants their family liked to visit. I drove them over to Emerald Isle and took them to some of my family’s favorite spots. And as I left on Saturday night, I remember having this wonderful feeling of being “rested.” The coast has always been a place of rest and relaxation for me, not just because of the laid-back vibe the area has, but also because I have almost always gone down to the coast with friends or family. It is always a time of retreat and restoration, a time to reconnect with folks away from any pressures of “normal” life, a time to take in the fun and excitement of being somewhere new, a time to take in the beauty of Creation and feel restored.

The concept of “rest” and the concept of taking time away to rest shows up a lot in the scriptures. Jesus, on multiple occasions, takes his disciples across the Sea of Galilee to a place where they can rest and pray (Matthew 14:22-23; Mark 6:30-32). God sends an angel to take care of the prophet Elijah after his confrontation with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:1-8). The psalms are filled with moments where the poets thank God for giving them rest (Psalm 3, 4, 23, 62, 116, and more!). And of course, the most famous example, after spending six days creating the cosmos, God rests on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-3). All these examples tell us one very important thing—God wants us to take time to rest. God does not expect us to try and sprint through life, moving from one project to the next, one event to the next. God wants us to take time to relax and recharge. God wants us to take moments to slow down, breathe in, and breathe out, taking in all the wondrous things around us. God wants us to take time to enjoy the things that bring us happiness and fulfillment.

What are the things that bring you rest? Where are the places you feel you can relax and recharge? Who are the people that fill you up? What parts of your spiritual life restore your soul? I hope you’ll ponder these questions over the coming days. And I hope you’ll take some time to do something you really enjoy, some-thing that fulfills you, something that lets you feel relaxed and rested.

Grace and peace to you all,
Pastor Ben