In warmer climates such as Southern California, there are often t-shirts, posters, and other items that carry the caption “Endless Summer.”
The caption is usually accompanied by an artist’s depiction of two surfers standing in front of the ocean at sunset with palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. The image and the caption are meant to take the viewer back to a simpler time in history, really all the way back to the Garden of Eden. The idea is that Southern California or other warmer places experience “endless summer,” endlessly warm and sunny days without ever experiencing the harshness of winter. These images are meant to both celebrate warmer climates and instill jealousy in those who live in colder climates. However, the appeal of these images goes much deeper than that - people are drawn to these images because they represent rest - not just in the form of physical rest or even sleep, but rest for the soul and the deepest parts of our being. They speak of an experience of freedom from the hassles and stresses and pain and disappointment and angst of this world - they remind us of Eden and invite us to look forward to heaven and the day when Jesus returns and re-creates our broken world. Until then, we live in a world where all is not “endless summer” —neither literally nor figuratively.
The reality is that while many of us are drawn to the idea of an idyllic experience of “endless summer,” our lives are often far from a dreamy day playing in the waves of a tropical ocean beach at sunset. We work hard, play hard, and live hard. As members of our culture, we often follow the pull to keep ourselves constantly busy, if not with our paid work, then with activities with our kids or projects around the house or more. Additionally, many people don’t sleep enough and live out of a permanent “sleep deficit.” The Centers for Disease Control say that “more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, contributing to an increase in motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. People who don’t sleep enough are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity” (https://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/). The bottom line is that sleep and other forms of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rest are critical even for life and health!
It’s for this reason that God commands us to REST. The 3rd commandment to “keep the Sabbath day holy” is the pattern for rest that even God follows in the creation story. While part of that idea is taking a day to do no work and to worship and otherwise connect intentionally with God, it is meant to be a bigger pattern for the rhythm of our lives. God is calling us to rest so that we can work with joy, not work ourselves to the bone just so we can finally rest. To that end, I encourage you to carve out and set aside time to rest this summer. That can look like a lot of different things for different people, but here are some suggestions: take a nap, read a book, watch a movie, watch a sunset or sunrise, travel somewhere else, go out for a leisurely lunch or coffee with a good friend or your family, or stay at home and literally smell the flowers in your yard on your street. Whatever it looks like for you, take time for REST this summer - you and your heart, mind, soul, and body need it, it’s commanded by God for our own good, and it will slowly but surely rejuvenate you and prepare you for whatever is next is your life. Our Seattle summer may not be endless, but our need to build rest into our lives on a regular basis is endless and I encourage you to experience the God-given freedom to indulge in regular rest this summer and throughout the year. When we rest, we also foreshadow what we will experience with God in heaven one day and when He comes to recreate the heavens and earth: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10)
I encourage you to also make worship a regular source of rest for you and your family this summer - it’s so important and restful in its own way to stay connected to God and His people and in that way. When you are out of town or otherwise unable to gather with others for worship, remember that each Sunday’s message is available in our mobile app and on our website, as is the opportunity to give and invest in the Hope ministry over the summer. Also, take time to rest in God’s Word and prayer each day as a source of grounding, perspective, and life throughout the days of your summer. Even though our summers are not endless, God wants us to endlessly do life from a place of rest rather than exhaustion. May that increasingly be your reality this summer and beyond!
In His Strength and Peace,