Happy Labor Day!

On the celebration of the day of labor, we don’t labor. We rest. Picture your 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.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  2Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”  3Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
4But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”  5And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”  6And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.  7And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”  8And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. 
(1 Kings 19:1-8, ESV)

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.

Enjoy the extra day of respite from work. And as you spend time with friends and family, or just enjoying some peace and quiet (and a few extra hours sleep!), reflect on the rest in your life. Do you seek rest from the Lord?

Happy Labor Day!

 

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