Ordinariness oozes from the pores of January.

After weeks of feasting, the scales scream for us to cease. The garbage disposal gobbles up the last crumbs of temptation (or should) and fitness centers whisper sweet nothings in our ears. Sale flyers mock our thin wallets as bills spill over the inbox. Short days and dark nights, like black holes, inhale shreds of energy and optimism that could buoy soul and body.

Outside, winter pushes cold hard against the fertility of the land and it rests.

Perhaps we should as well.

Winter personifies rest—a season of imperative dormancy. Without dormancy, many plant species cannot produce fruit and will eventually die. Without periods of dormancy in our existence, we become confused and our life force erodes. “Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air.”1

In His infinite wisdom and grace, God built rest into the weekly cycle, modeling the consummate balance of work and rest, then offering—no, mandating—an imperative designed to regenerate and refresh.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:8-11).

Several thousand years later, Jesus perpetuated His Father’s injunction.

“When we think of Jesus, we usually think of him teaching, healing, or being accosted by the hordes of sick or possessed who sought his touch. But Jesus would just as often send people away, or disappear without warning, dismissing those in need with neither excuse nor explanation, and retreat to a place of rest.

“Jesus did not wait until everyone had been properly cared for, until all who sought him were healed. He did not ask permission to go, nor did he leave anyone behind ‘on call,’ or even let his disciples know where he was going. Jesus obeyed a deeper rhythm. When the moment for rest had come, the time for healing was over. He would simply stop, retire to a quiet place, and pray.”2

Do we sense and obey such a rhythm? Do we, with open hands and hearts, welcome the winter darkness as an invitation to slow, reflect, rest? When the sacred Sabbath arrives, does the sheer joy of living percolate to the surface to our consciousness as we revel in creation’s gifts? Do our minds gape at the incredible blessings we’ve experienced through the wonder and agony of the past seven days?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
–Matt. 11:28.

Will you?

Ann Halim is editor of College View Church EWeekend, the newsletter where this first appeared on Jan. 7, 2016.

1Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller, p. 19
2Ibid., p. 24, 25