Genesis 2:2-3 ESV 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. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. …
God rested? I may be going out on a limb here, but my guess is that the creator of the universe didn’t need a nap. Why is this in the Bible? What is God trying to teach us by saying that he rested?
This probably isn’t the first time most of us have heard, “and he rested on the seventh day,” given it is a well-known part of the creation story. I’ve even heard many lessons on taking time to rest, that it’s good to rest, and that we need to rest. But how often have I stopped to think about it? And until recently, I had never asked why the creator of the universe wanted us to know he rested.
One of the best guidelines for understanding the scriptures is to look at the original audience for a passage. Traditional thought teaches that Moses compiled these stories for the Israelites, former slaves coming out of a brutal culture. A culture in which they were only useful if they could produce. God was telling those former slaves they needed to trust him and rest. However, even more than that, he wanted them to know their worth did not come from how many bricks they could make. God loved them for who they were. This wasn’t just a lesson on self-care, but about knowing our worth in God’s eyes.
He showed us a truth that can revolutionize how we see ourselves. This month I celebrated my 40th spiritual birthday and over the years I’ve had a few more physical birthdays as well. It has been a journey of both mountaintop highs and deep valley lows, but I would not trade a day. Looking back, I can see how many times I tried to get my worth from making more bricks. It was what came naturally. That was what society taught, but it was not God’s plan and it was ultimately not fulfilling. He wanted me to rest and know he valued me for who I was.
While this might be God’s plan, resting and being secure in our worth hasn’t been easy this year. Together we all feel the challenges of the pandemic, political unrest, and social injustice. In addition to that, everyone has their own personal problems.
For me, a family member has struggled with an addiction that has ripped me up emotionally. My mother has Alzheimer’s and occasionally gets violent. She hasn’t known who I am for years. As I’ve tried to come to grips with these issues, I’ve been more limited physically because of the lockdowns and a flare-up of my chronic illness. These situations have forced me to stay home and read, pray, and think. But God, in his great wisdom, has used these situations to deepen my convictions about his love and grace. I haven’t been physically able to go make more bricks, but it’s been the best thing for me. This year God has revealed aspects of his story that have enabled me to experience a new depth of peace and joy. This year he has given me one more window into a facet of his character.
It’s not like I’ve always kept my eyes on God and courageously soldiered on. As I try to lead, I’ve struggled with insecurities over my limitations. However, God has taught me to trust he could still use me regardless of what I could or couldn’t accomplish. Seeing me wrestle with my issues has been more useful to the women around me than seeing my victories. Just like he showed those former slaves, he has made me the way I am and I have worth in his eyes.
God wants each of us to know that it isn’t about how many bricks we can make. Understanding his love and desire for a relationship motivates us to do his will with joy and contentment rather than duty and guilt. My prayer is that all of us grow in our knowledge of him, and because of that knowledge, we are inspired to do his will in new and exciting ways.
Patty Asaad serves as Congregational Women’s Ministry Leader for the Dallas/Fort Worth Church. Patty has served in the full-time ministry for more than 35 years. She was baptized in Columbia, Missouri in 1980 while she was earning her degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. After working as a reporter for a brief period of time Patty decided to go into the full-time ministry and moved to Chicago, IL. There she met Todd and they married in 1988. They moved to Texas in 1996 and before coming to Texas they served in several churches in the Midwest. They have two sons and a daughter-in-law who live in Austin, TX.