Monday, November 12, 2007


Yesterday--November 11--the United States observed Veterans' Day, honoring former members of the Armed Forces. November 11 is also Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of World War I. People throughout history have celebrated the ends of wars; few have ever celebrated a war's beginning. While some soldiers enjoy battle for battle's sake, the vast majority--certainly those on the winning side--are happiest when the war is finally over.

The Christian life is a constant spiritual war against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Everything we do, from our daily work to the thoughts we think, is a battle to overcome our own self-centeredness and mold us in the image of Christ. Even with the encouraging certainty of being on the winning side, sometimes we feel the overwhelming need to rest from the fighting. There's nothing lazy or sinful about this, unless our definition of "rest" is "take a break from God and be selfish for a while." Sometimes we are so afraid of this attitude--or of leaving something vital undone--that we stick to work as if we doubted God could run the universe for five minutes without our help.

If we instead stop to refresh ourselves spiritually, putting aside everyday doing and concentrating on getting to know God better, that kind of rest is not only permissible; it's commanded. God knows that, until the battle of life is over and we enter into the perfect rest where work and worship are the same, we need regular short rests to stay effective. Besides being Veterans' Day and Armistice Day, yesterday was Sunday, the traditional "day of rest" for Christians. Did you take time to refresh yourself for the next battle?

As the Lord rested from His labor
On the seventh day of time,
He calls us to rest from our duties
For a day of worship sublime.
He gives us each day that we spend here:
Is it so very much to ask
That we give Him back one out of seven,
When we set aside every task?

As the Lord gave rest to His people
When they entered the Promised Land,
He offers us rest from our struggles
When we yield our wills to His hand.
However exhausting the journey,
Whatever the bumps in the road,
He gives us the strength for our marches
And He helps us to bear the load.

As the Lord sat down by His Father
When His work on this earth was done,
He welcomes us home to His Kingdom
When our earthly battles are won.
The rest that He gives is eternal,
The peace that He brings never dies:
Let us give all our days to His service
That we may find where true rest lies.

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