Thirty years, I was told that I was burning the candle at both ends. And it didn’t help that I was driving my very first car. When I was 18 I bought a Datsun 180B. It was a good car. Notice that I use that word “was”.
In those days, I was
living at Roseville on Sydney North Shore;
dating Leisl who lived in Engadine which is in Sydney’s South;
a full-time student in Carlingford in Sydney’s north-west;
working part time in Sydney’s West;
And I had a student church close to Cronulla on Sydney’s South.
I used to travel from the north, to the south, to the west back down to south, then back home to the north. Back then I was clocking up over 1000 km a week!
The problem was, my car couldn’t handle it. In one year, I had 7 NRMA Road Call Services and 6 NRMA Tow-trucks services! At least I got my money’s worth from the NRMA.
One day, my future father-in-law wanted to have a special chat with Leisl and me and I was petrified! He told us that we were burning the candle at both ends! And he was right. We were. I wanted to ask if I could move in with them but didn’t think that would be wise to ask. Graeme said that we will burn out if we didn’t slow down.
And he was right, we all need to put some margin back into our lives. Margin is breathing room. It’s time out. It’s rest.
Over January, we have a month’s window before we launch into an exciting year with vision, new sermon series, ministry groups returning. I’m really looking forward to 2018.
In recent years, it’s come to my attention that talking about making new year’s resolutions is a waste of time for we will inevitably break them. So don’t bother.
I find this kinda sad as many people will simply go into the new year doing the same things as last year, which was probably the same as the year before! It’s like going in a merry-go-round, going around and around and not hoping off.
I believe there are always room for improvement – in relationships, health, work. Certainly, for the Christian our faith shouldn’t be static, doing the merry go round thing. We are called to grow. Peter wrote to Christians and told them, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 NIV).
And so, in January, we are looking at Hebrews chapter 4 and at the three times the writer uses the phrase “Let us”. Three times in chapter 4 the writer says, “Let us”. I like that instead of saying, “You need to do this”, he says, "Let us." He's encouraging all of us together to do these things and so, what I want to do is cover one "let us" per week over the next 3 weeks.
The writer has written, “Let us enter a spiritual rest”, he said, "Let us hold firmly to what we believe”, and he said, “Let us enter before God's throne to find help”.
Today we are starting with the very first one in Hebrews chapter 4 when he says, “Let us enter a special rest”. Let’s start in verse 9, “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT).
Now, notice that this is a very special rest and you may ask, "What is that rest?" Well, some believe the author to the Hebrews was talking about an eternal rest, like rest in peace after you die – heaven. Others believe that he was referring to a deep, meaningful spiritual Sabbath rest where we actually rest from our work.
It’s interesting when you study the word for rest in verse 9 is the word from which we get Sabbath. It can be used for both heavenly rest (in the future) and rest from our daily work (present). Today, I am going to actually apply this principal to both, an eternal rest in heaven and a temporary rest on Earth. For example, eternally, the good news is, we will rest from our labour. We will rest from sorrow, rest from sickness, rest from loss, rest eternally from sin. We will never ever sin anymore. Isaiah 57:2 says, “For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die” (Isaiah 57:2 NLT).
Craig Crochel tells of the time when he was on a mission trip and they were visiting a Compassion International site that his church was involved in. Craig was with the President of Compassion International, and they were in a home. It had no floor, no plumbing, no electricity, and there was actually a garbage dump outside that the water would flow through this house when it would rain in this horrible just flooded dump area. Inside was a precious lady that was always hurting, grieving, in deep poverty, and the President of Compassion prayed with her, something that Craig has never forgotten. He just prayed about eternity and he thanked God that one day, she wouldn't suffer and her kids would have everything they needed. Afterwards, Craig looked at him and he was curious because that's not how we typically think when we're praying with people in the West, where we're so blessed and prosperous. The President of Compassion said, "You have to remember, these people, they're going to suffer and suffer and suffer on Earth, and so their faith is really an eternal blessing where there is rest from all the suffering”. That's a special rest.
Even though we westerners have a pretty good life compared to this lady, and billions like her, I realise that you may be suffering in some way, maybe some physical ailment. So many people battle with depression. It could be your kids are doing something that really is difficult. There'll be an eternal rest from all the hardships in this world for those who are followers of Christ.
In a vision, Jesus gave the Apostle John a glimpse of this future rest: “Look, God's home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3-4 NLT). That’s eternal rest!
On a different level, I want to look at this. What if God has a special rest for us on Earth? What if we can do our best today to enter into that rest? Well, its important for us to understand this wonderful truth that and God values “rest”. In our culture today, many of us, just work work work work work work work, but God deeply values rest. He worked six days, and on the seventh day what did He do? He rested. Genesis 2 says, “So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work” (Genesis 2:1-2 NLT).
In fact, we have to remind ourselves, that one of the Ten Commandments is to observe the Sabbath, to keep it holy, to take a day and commit it to God, that on this day we are not working. This is a day we're setting apart for God. What does the word holy mean? Holy actually means set apart. This is a day set apart to glorify God by doing what He did, by resting from our work and from our labor, and so I have to recognize rest as a holy act before God. A day of rest is actually pleasing to God.
Most here, I know, are very busy. Busy with paid work, busy raising a family, busy caring for a sick loved one. So I'm going to ask you the question: Does your body need rest? Does your mind need rest? Does your soul need rest? If you're not keeping the Sabbath, if you're not taking a day off, I can almost answer absolutely and completely, the answer is yes.
Psalm 37:7, in the King James Version reads: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him”. I love that phrase that we are to rest in the Lord.
I’ll be honest with you, by the end of last year I was so very tired and so Leisl and I took the opportunity with it being so quiet around here to take a week off between Christmas and New Year. After Christmas, we went to Nelson Bay which is north of Newcastle. We have been going there – on and off – for 23 years thanks to Leisl’s parents who have an apartment there. What did we do? Nothing. Except for when we bought an ice-cream each night, we did nothing. We rested. And I felt so rejuvenated.
Some of you right now, where are you? You're wearied, you're burdened, you're overwhelmed, you're freaked out. The weight of the world is on you. You feel like there's too much for you to do. You can never get it all done, you're always tired, you're always overwhelmed. What do you do?
First, you go to Jesus with your concerns. That’s what Jesus invites us to do in Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).
What we need to do is to rest in the Lord. Rest in His promises, rest in His provisions, rest in His faithfulness. Whatever is a burden to you, say, "You know what? I'm trusting this to Jesus. I'm giving this to Him. I can rest because my God has this." So first, go to Jesus.
Second, put some margin into your life. Margin is breathing room. It's keeping a little reserve that you're not using up. It's not going from one meeting to the next to the next with no space in between.
Margin is the space between your load and your limit. Hopefully your load is not heavier than your limits. But the truth is that most of us are far more overloaded than we can handle, and there is no margin for error in our lives.
Dr. Richard Swenson, MD says this: “The conditions of modern day living devour margin… Marginless is being 30 minutes late to the doctor's office because you were 20 minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were 10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That's marginless”.
“Margin, on the other hand, is having breath at the top of the staircase, money at the end of the month, and sanity left over at the end of day. Margin is grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. Margin is having a friend help carry the burden. Marginless is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counter-culture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure."
The way you create margin in your life is to stop doing some things. There are things you are doing in your life that you really don’t have to do. Stop them. It may mean limiting what you are doing. Create margin in your life. Jesus create margin in His life by withdrawing to quiet places (Luke 5:16).
Third, practice a weekly Sabbath, the way God intended. Now I’m not talking about whether it ought to be a Saturday or Sunday. The Apostle Paul actually said to the church in Rome to make up their mind which day they were going to keep special and holy (Romans 14:5; also Colossians 2:16-17). Likewise, Jesus spoke about keeping the spirit of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-12).
The point is, God designed us in such a way that our bodies need rest and so He worked out that all that our bodies required is a weekly day of rest. Rest from work, rest from running around, rest from meetings.
Now for most, this would be a huge commitment. You have kids to drop off, meetings to go to, domestic duties at home. I know what it’s like. For some, its about changing our perspective. You are a high energy person and doing such a day every week [you think] will kill you! Some of you have a strong work ethic. Jesus never demanded us to be lazy, but he never wanted us to be workaholics either. It’s something that if you really want to see your mind, body and soul rejuvenated, then take the Sabbath challenge.
If you don’t make a New Year’s resolution in coming to Jesus, making margins, and taking Sabbaths, then it will be like being on a merry-go-round and you will keep being in that cycle of feeling good then tired, then near burn out, then feeling ok again only to be tired again.
Some of us do burn the candle at both ends. When you burn a candle at both ends not only does the candle burn twice as fast but it will drip wax making the life of the candle short. Back in those days that was considered waste.
When we burn the candle at both ends by living a crazy lifestyle, we become inefficient, tired, and eventually burnt out. The light that we are called to radiate is snuffed out.
That’s not what God original designed us to become. When you come to Jesus, He will give you rest. I love the way this is translated in the Message version, it's