1 Kings 19:11-12
He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Earthquakes, fires, shootings, bombings, hate filled rhetoric, road rage, anger, judging, nobodies right if everybodies wrong, chaos, why watch the news anymore? Plus school starts, fall sports swings into motion, crops are maturing….where does it all end? When was the last time you really felt spiritually refreshed? How do you spiritually refresh? Where do we find the time?
I wager that if we lived on the beach, we probably would wish we could escape to a mountain cabin and if we lived in the mountain cabin…after shoveling the snow every day we would wish we could sit on the beach. Just don’t have the time, need a vacation! Here is the thing, to take a vacation, we got to often work and plan just to do that! I think that the Lord must often laugh at our futile quest for down time, for spiritual set aside time. If the Lord didn’t laugh at us, he might start crying because he set this all up for us back in the beginning.
Remember the sabbath day, and 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; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Maybe God should have named the Sabbath, vacation day! But God developed the day first and He even consecrated that day, he set it apart for a high purpose, for our spiritual renewal. God made us in His image. Jesus was there at creation. Jesus walked this earth, lived like us, felt feelings like we do, felt the burdens like we do, lived in the rat race of life like we do, and He said “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
When will we learn? Do you sit here today and feel that life is a burden? Are you living in a “rat race” where you are stuck in a spiral of an ever-busy condition in your life where you wonder if you ever really accomplish anything of significance? Is it just survival in the moment rather than having moments of higher meaning?
When is the last time you were still and listened to the Lord? When have you turned of the “wind, earthquakes and fires” of life and like Elijah, heard God in the sound of sheer silence?
This question is for everyone gathered here today. Retirees, what are you teaching your children and grandchildren? How many of you are busier today or as busy as you were before, than when you worked at a job. What signals are you sending out to your family and those around you? For many retirees, the only time they slow down is when physical illness slows them. What are you teaching your children and grandchildren?
Stopping the busyness and listening to the Lord, keeps the water fresh. Retirees and those of us that have had a relationship with Jesus for a while….is our water fresh? Are we stale? I have read Upper Room devotions asking if our faith is stale. I think we become stale in our faith when we are so caught up in the rat race and life living rather than stopping and letting God do some refreshing in our vacation day, or Sabbath day. What are you teaching your children and grandchildren?
Let’s explore this “rat race” some more. Cell-/flip phones are old technology. Smart phones are required. Texting is better than talking. Got to have an I-pad, or some pad. Got to have the internet in the palm of my hand. Facebook access from that phone is required or we need to spend more time telling people where we are on our computer and what we are doing on facebook or twitter rather than telling God where we are. We spend more time googling the internet rather than googling what God has to say in the Bible.
We fill our time with our schedule, our outlook schedule or even that old fashion written paper schedule, you know that list you make. We set aside certain times for work because we need more money for the bills, the mortgage, the ATT & Verizon data plan monthly payment, for the gas to get the kids and the grandchildren to the extracurricular activities that fill up their time to get ahead in life, to be a success. We keep the TV on to fill our ears, to entertain the children. We eat on the run, rather than eat together.
We go and run and go and run and go and run until we end up in a cave exhausted like Elijah was from the rat race. How are you today? I’m busy, I’m tired, I’m behind. When said all the time. When that happens, we have been caught up in the folly of self-effort. We think our life and the things of our life is up to us, so we strain under the burden of living. Instead of letting God be God, in the rat race we become our God. We think it is about our will-power, so we press on harder.
We become anxious and worry about life. Our schedule can matter more than God. We wake up and find that we are attempting to be all things to all people or we attempt to do everything just to serve ourselves, rather than being a wonderful servant for the will of God doing great things for Him. We were redeemed for that purpose, doing God’s will and God said “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Jesus says to us: “Come to me and He will give us rest.” Stop running through life and just come to Jesus. Stop the self-management and consider God-management.
What happens when we have too much self-management? I think that we frequently find ourselves stressed, burdened, overwhelmed, and frustrated in life. We know some “thing” is wrong but we keep thinking God will show up as we go. Or we might think God has given us assignments and we are to carry them out in our own strength and by our own plans of action.
God’s purpose is to be intimately involved and present in the details of our lives. In fact, our lives are meant to become His.
When we don’t stop. When we don’t stop for the sheer silence of God, we become over burdened and suddenly we find that the consequences of our independence hurts us terribly. We obsess about problems and things rather than casting our problems to the Lord. We worry about our future and our circumstance. In essence we are living a prideful life. We have not let God be God.
So I am guessing you are thinking that my message today is to stop and get out of the rat race of life. You are right. So does that mean that you do less for God and His church as the church is called to advance the kingdom? Nope! I am advocating that you get into the “God race.” I am advocating that you take the time to speak with God and think less about the “Good intentions” you have for yourself, and yes for your family, and make sure that your “Good Intentions” are “God Intentions.” If you’re looking for a to-do list of what to-do today, not happening.
Here is the key, the only way to get the “God intentions” is in the quiet time with God. You figure out when the Lord is telling you to do it. Let’s get back to 1 kings 19 for a second and Elijah. Elijah had been one passionate active prophet for God. Before this scripture you are talking about one busy man going the biblical equivalent of 100 mph. He had handled the Baal worshippers, he had delivered messages to Ahab the bad king, Elijah became a hunted man by the wicked queen Jezebel. So Elijah ran for his life.
Elijah stopped to die, then the Lord cared for Him, then he ran some more, in fact for 40 days. Elijah got depressed from his rat race of a life and crawled into a cave. Then God came to Him in sheer silence……and Elijah listened to God as God spoke. Then Elijah understood God’s intention in his life, he didn’t stay in the cave. Elijah immediately went on and continued to accomplish what God wanted done because he really heard God’s voice clearly in the silence.
Elijah focused on God in the silence of that time, then Elijah got back to work in God’s kingdom and he found peace. Elijah got God’s priorities in the quiet time when he rested. Elijah got God’s priorities in the quiet time when he rested. Folks, is your life made up of earthquakes, wind and fire? You won’t hear God in that. Is your life one big rat race?
Try a real Sabbath and pray to God he shows you the way because I propose that you won’t hear God in the rat-race. Is your busyness not driven by God but by your pride or what you think is best for God? You know your life is filled with good intentions yet you haven’t checked with God as to whether they are God’s intentions. You won’t hear God in that.
You need a vacation day? I propose a weekly Sabbath day, a quiet day, a shut down day. I can honestly tell you it refreshes me and frankly that has saved my sanity and God says it will refresh you – spiritually and physically. The choice is yours. When you do, God will do great things in your life…that’s a promise!
Listen to the holy word spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah in 58:13-14:
God said: If you stop trampling the Sabbath,
stop doing whatever you want on my holy day,
and consider the Sabbath a delight,
sacred to the Lord, honored,
and honor it instead of doing things your way,
seeking what you want and doing business as usual,
then you will take delight in the Lord.
I will let you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will sustain you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.