Part one of four in a series on Rest.
“So God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” — Genesis 2:3 (ESV)
Morning dawned on the 7th day, and God rested. He ceased from His labor, celebrating all that He had created. On man’s first full day on earth, God called us to rest, celebrate, and recharge. One of the Hebrew words for “rest” is shabbat, שַׁבָּת. On the Sabbath, we strengthen ourselves in God by ceasing from our ordinary tasks. We meet with Him and celebrate our relationship with YHWH Shalom, the God of Peace.
In our culture, we have become overworked and out of balance, striving so hard for the goal that we have forgotten how to stop and celebrate the One who created us. God knew we would need rest from the anxiety and strain of overworking. It is so important to our body, soul, and spiritual well-being that God made the Sabbath one of the Ten Commandments.
The rhythms of work and rest are reflected in nature. In winter, we see beyond the beauty of the fruit of what the tree produces in the harvest, to behold the majesty of the tree’s structure. During the winter season, the tree prepares for spring. It will shed its fruit and leaves to replenish its storehouse of nutrients from the soil and water. The tree gathers energy it will need to produce buds and leaves in the spring.
Like the trees in nature, we need to reset and renew by entering into God’s rest. His presence strengthens and prepares us to carry out our purpose in the world. Worshiping God is one way to usher us into His presence, which celebrates our creator YHWH Rapha, the One who heals and replenishes our energy. Often, winter is seen as bleak, and worship is a way to bring hope and the anticipation of spring.
Another way to come into rest is through centering prayer, which is simply sitting in the presence of YHWH Shalom without an agenda, just being His creation. One of the Hebrew words for “being still” is chashah, חָשָׁה, and that’s what we do when we sit in God’s presence. We were created to be in relationship with Him.
Nature in the winter landscape can also bring us into God’s rest. The stillness of the lacy branches of trees, viewed through a window from my favorite recliner with a cup of hot chocolate soothes my soul. The clicking of my knitting needles calms my thoughts and helps me focus on God as I pray. My niece, who lives in Chicago, puts on layers of clothes to enjoy a walk with God in the hushed silence of a snowy road.
My prayer for you is to embrace winter rest, to renew and recharge your body, soul, and spirit in anticipation of spring. Without the distractions of activities of the sunny seasons, we have the opportunity to focus on our relationship with God, by our worship, centering prayer, and enjoying the winter landscape. Allow the stillness and silence of the winter months to bring you into God’s rest.
Copyright © 2021 by Karen Castleberry
Karen Castleberry is a Missionary of Prayer. She lives with her husband, Gary, and 2 dogs, in a little cottage nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia. Their son, Jeremiah, lives and works nearby. Karen loves reading, writing, photography, knitting, and all things creative. Her greatest joy in life is spending time with Jesus, her family and friends. Karen enjoys volunteering with Transformations.