Have you ever felt like the anticipation of rest is more than the rest we actually get. We’ve all sat on a Thursday evening, telling ourselves: ‘Just one more day and it’s the weekend.’ We love knowing a Saturday morning sleep-in is coming, when you don’t need to set an alarm. This feels even better when you’ve had a long week. You can feel the dancing in your brain imagining all the rest you’ll get.
Weekends don’t always deliver.
Unfortunately, weekends don’t always deliver. Often, things happen that make resting hard. A sick child, a mourning friend, or a quarrel with your spouse. Other times, the weekend is wide open and full of relaxation, but anxiety about the coming crazy week robs you of properly resting. In the end, even the perfect weekend doesn’t last. Monday rolls around, quicker than it should.
Why are Weekends Always so Fleeting?
What is it with rest that is so fleeting? We want it so much but it always seems to escape us. The entertainment world tells us we can get it, just pay for Netflix. Others prefer hiking with friends. Then there’s always an afternoon barbecue, or nyama choma for my Kenyan brothers. But none of it ever satisfyingly delivers on our wild craving for it. Are we just ungrateful people? It’s possible. Have we become obsessed with rest, so that we miss the good but occasional blessing it is? I think we have.
Perhaps our longing for the perfect rest is a desire for something beyond this world.
So, despite God putting it into our weekly calendar, good rest is a rarity. It’s elusive. And there are many reasons for this. But I want to suggest one more. Perhaps, as C. S. Lewis put it, our longing for the perfect rest is a desire for something beyond this world. It’s ingrained in us, but can’t be fully realised in our present world. We see glimpses of it by the grace of God, but sin, the world, and the enemy’s schemes ruin them.
God Made Us to Rest
It would be sad for me to end this article here because that’s not where the Bible ends. In God’s kindness our frustrated rest will end. When we turn to the creation account, we read that we were made for rest, because we were made for God. Isn’t it striking that we meet the idea of rest right at the beginning of our creation story.
We were made for rest, because we were made for God.
Genesis 2:2-3 says, “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.”
Of all the things you think about God have you ever associated him with rest? Do you know that he enjoys rest and wants that for us too? Perhaps our African religious roots and the crazy consumer world we live in have made God into someone who hates rest, and anything fun or enjoyable. We might even think taking a day off is ungodly. It’s no wonder some people won’t see church as a place to find rest. Our busy church life doesn’t help on this either. We end up thinking God is out to get me busy, that heaven is all about night vigils and prayer crusades. Well, not really. The God we meet in Genesis works. After that, he enjoys rest from his creation work. We were made for this rest with God.
“There Remains a Sabbath Rest for the People of God”
Only, as we’ve seen, this rest is not something we experience or enjoy at present, at least not in anything other than snatches. Our weekends and relaxation are often frustrated, and always fleeting. So, the author of Hebrews comments on the above verses in Genesis writing, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:9-10).
God’s rest is not something we enjoy at present, at least not in anything other than snatches.
Now that makes heaven a place of rest, a fun place, doesn’t it? God isn’t calling us to a choir of angels flipping our wings up and down. He’s inviting us to take a holiday with him in his perfect (new) creation. Just imagine going on a safari with Jesus, while Paul drives. Man, oh man! You must be like, I could do with that like now. Maybe you are not the outdoor kind of guy. Think about this then, playing a snooker game with David. Actually, probably Timothy; David feels more like the hunting kind of guy. Though he might enjoy a bit of dance too.
It’s More Exciting than We Typically Think
Now I know I’m making some of you uncomfortable with this. But maybe our imaginations need some work. I don’t for once imagine a boring heaven like our world portrays it. I think the God who calls us to rest, the God who imagined the beauty of creation, who really cares for his children, is a lot more fun than we imagine. His is actually the right kind of fun. And in Jesus we can long for that perfect rest, for much more than a weekend or even annual leave.
The God who calls us to rest is a lot more fun than we imagine.
Listen to how Isaiah puts it, and tell me if that’s not some perfect way to rest. “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines” (Isaiah 25:6).
You heard right. God is calling you to a heavenly after-party. Great meat, good wine, no tears, no death, and no evil. If we got that even for a weekend it’d be worth everything wouldn’t it? Now imagine having it for eternity. A life of fun with our Creator God. Imagine what his idea of fun is when you remove sin, death, and Satan from the picture. I know I can’t wait. Can you?