This past weekend my home state of Maryland was slammed with the first snowfall of the season. The snow, so unassuming and a sight to see, began with light flurries on Saturday afternoon and soon grew to a full blown Winter Weather Warning within a few short hours. Not only did my church in Adamstown, Maryland shut down for the day yesterday, but Baltimore City Public Schools (the school system that I matriculated through… which NEVER closed when I attended) announced last night that they would be closed today. PAUSE- why is it that when I was a student that district was never closed but now it closes all willy-nilly??? I digress. Habits were interrupted and schedules were thrown out the window as Marylanders were forced to sit pretty as God created His beautiful Winter Wonderland. Even when some brave folks (myself included) ventured out to clear their cars and walkways, thinking the worst of the snow was over, God let out a brief chuckle, rolled up His sleeves, and sent more snow our way, completely covering all that we had cleared. Personally, when I realized that I would have to re-clear two cars and shovel again I was not too happy. But I soon realized that God is God and He had a purpose for the snow… something that we were missing… so He had to send more. As I looked out the window at the fresh fallen snow now creating a nice, white blanket over the rough, black roads, I realized why God had allowed the snow to fall in the first place- we needed to rest.
In Exodus 20:8-10a, it is written that we should remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. We should rest and do no work that day. Now, what I’m NOT going to do is debate whether Saturday or Sunday is the Sabbath. From my personal studies, I have learned that the Sabbath is the one day- whichever day of the week you choose- that we rest from work. Yes, God rested on the seventh day but for preachers and many others, it is impossible to rest from work on Saturdays or Sundays…so maybe Monday is their day… and that’s fine… just rest. As easy as that sounds (I mean, why should we disobey a commandment that says to do nothing for a day?), we do tend to disobey this often because, well, we have busy lives and something always comes up. If I had to guess, I would say that God gets tired of seeing us so tired and run down so He sends weekends like this past weekend to get us to hit the brakes and just enjoy His creation. Yeah, it’s either that or He just wants to be first, not last, in our lives and uses the weather to still hit our brakes so that we can meet with Him. In either case, God is speaking to us during these weather phenomenons and we must pause- rest- in order to hear Him.
Coming from a Jamaican household, I always viewed rest as a trait of the lazy. You know that old cliche that Jamaicans have ‘nuff (a lot of) jobs? Yeah, that was too true in my family. Every member of my immediate family either worked multiple jobs or worked many hours at one job. So for me, rest was, ironically, a foreign concept to me. As I got older and came into my own, I slowly began to walk away from the idea that I can “rest when I’m dead” because I learned that that type of mentality would send me to an early grave and leave my family to mourn my absence. I realized that it was smarter to spend time with them while I could and work when I must. Trust me, many a happy days followed my decision to put family and loved ones above excessive work.
So, almost naturally, when I made that adjustment guilt began to set in. I began to wonder if I really was being lazy and I questioned my desire to collect memories, not money. Just as I was in the throes of my guilt, God sent me a gentle reminder in Hebrews 4:9-11:
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. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
Ahhh, sweet Sabbath-rest! The truth is, God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3) and Jesus, Son of God, rested many times in the New Testament as He travelled. Rest is natural; to not rest is unnatural.
I like to think that God sent this snow this weekend so that we could get a physical, Sabbath-rest… but also so that we would be reminded to spiritually rest in Him. His word says all too often that there is peace in His rest- don’t you want to experience that peace for yourself? I know I do! As I prepare for a quick nap (yes, I am in full rest mode today!), I pray that no matter where you are that you would take the time to enter into God’s sweet Sabbath-rest, trusting all your cares and concerns to He who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever think or ask.