Will you take a break?

If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 CEV

I read a report recently with the title, “What Happens Online in 60 Seconds”. It included the following statistics from 2014:

  • 204 million emails sent per minute
  • 3.3 million posts on Facebook per minute
  • 4 million searches on Google per minute
  • 50 billion messages sent on WhatsApp per minute

The fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) tells us that in six days, God made the heavens and the earth but he rested on the seventh day. We are reminded to keep the Sabbath day holy. Yet I hear many Christians say that Sunday can be the busiest day of the week for them and rarely do they find the time to rest.

As a child, I can still remember when hardly any shops were open for business on Sundays and there was very little traffic on the roads let alone any public transport available. Now, when I take a flight, the pilot instructs you not to use your mobile phones or electronic devices during take-off and landing but says he’ll let you know when it’s safe to use them during the flight. No wonder so many emails are sent per minute!

It seems in today’s culture, rest is not a big feature of daily living. Instead, we are encouraged to stay connected to our work and social activities, receiving information and responding in real-time. The distinction between our activities and our time of rest is being eroded as society propels us to chase after worldly things, disconnecting ourselves further from God.

Matthew 11:28

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus was addressing the people of Israel who were burdened and weighed down with the legal ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the Pharisees. The consequences of not conforming would lead to guilt, frustration and dissatisfaction. Whether we are a slave to today’s cultural demands or a slave to the legalism created by the Pharisees, Jesus invites us to break free from worldly demands and to seek him.

When we aren’t able to rest and recover from the physical, mental and emotional demands of life, we suffer. Not only do we feel burdened and weighed down but we often depend on ourselves. This can develop into a barrier between us and God as we rely on our own strength and not his.

It’s well known that there are benefits when we take regular breaks. For example, taking breaks from driving during a long car journey, going for a short walk in the middle of our working day, or having study breaks when revising for exams. Furthermore, longer periods of rest can help our bodies recuperate and for our minds to be refreshed.

I have learnt that the implication of having a lack of rest prevents me from giving God my best. This passage reminds me that as we answer the call from Jesus to be his disciples, we work and serve in the strength which he gives us. Which means we have to take time to rest and in doing so, we acknowledge that it’s by his strength and not ours that all things are accomplished.

Lawrence Sum
Director of Communications

Statistics and graphics reproduced from the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT)