On the celebration of the day of labor, we don’t labor. We rest. Picture your Happy Labor Day; what is included? Meeting up with friends and family by the lake, enjoying the final vestiges of summer warmth while playing in the water. Coming to shore for a hamburger, hot dog, chips, macaroni salad, coleslaw, and baked beans. Or are you at a relatives home. Cooking out by the grill, a side table weighed down with everyone’s favorite side dishes. The younger ones have tournaments of cornhole and Kanjam running. It is a day of rest, a day to recharge. Labor Day is a reminder, a reminder that while work is a part of life, so too is the chance to rest and recharge.
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19:1-8, NIV)
Elijah had just won a great spiritual battle – he had defeated the prophets of Baal, proving the superiority of the true Lord God! He should be elated, confident. Instead, at the first threat, he turned and fled. He needed rest. He needed nourishment. He needed to recharge his relationship with the Lord.
Like Elijah, we also need to rest. How we rest can vary depending on the type of rest we need. Not all rest is equal. Sometimes we need to rest by sleeping. Other times, we need to sit and relax. Still other times, we need rest through engaging in fun activities with friends and family, such as we may on Labor Day.
Elijah needed rest, but more than just physical rest. His rest relied on the Lord caring for him. Only once he had rested was he able to return to the purpose for which the Lord had appointed him.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, ESV)
Elijah performed a great labor. Elijah carried a heavy burden. When Elijah fled, he had just fought a great spiritual battle. He had not yet had time to rest and recharge. When he was threatened, he forgot to trust the Lord. Elijah only received rest when he stopped, and returned to the Lord.
Elijah sets an example for us. He reminds us to come before the Lord to obtain rest, complete rest. But Elijah is not the only example!
Jesus is the Son of God, but He came to earth as a human. He grew weary and needed rest. He slept on a boat, seeking physical rest. He went out in a garden to pray, seeking spiritual rest.
And in the beginning, the very beginning, God recognized the importance of rest. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2, ESV). God was not tired, He did not need the rest. But He recognized the importance rest would be in our lives, and set, from the very beginning, the example of rest. The example Elijah followed, the example Jesus followed, the example many more followed.
It cannot be denied that the past several years have been ones of trials, even to exhaustion. Everyone could use some rest. Rest in the arms of the Lord. Cast your cares, your worries, your exhaustion on Him. Allow Him to care for you as He cared for Elijah, as He cared for His Son, as He cares for all His children! Seek rest in the arms of the Lord!
Happy Labor Day!
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