“Finally, we’re home!…that was exhausting…I can’t believe I have to go back to work tomorrow…I don’t feel rested yet…I need a vacation from my vacation?”

Have you ever said things like this immediately after you get home from vacation?

We recently took a one-week trip down to Southern California from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area…and it was great! We visited friends and family, we played in the pool, we went to the beach, and we even spent a day at Disneyland!

But when we got home, I noticed I still didn’t feel rested.

Now, to be fair, taking 5 young children on a road trip for a week isn’t exactly a recipe for deep rest, though our kids did surprisingly well on this particular trip. Suffice it to say, all parents of young children understand that vacation is often harder work than staying home. So my expectations are never too high.

But as I reflected this time, what I realized is I didn’t do a great job of downshifting my schedule into a time of rest. I did what I am so often tempted to do – work even harder and longer hours before vacation so I didn’t fall behind.

In other words, I had sacrificed healthy daily and weekly rhythms of rest hoping I could get ahead of my work and somehow make up for a lack of rest on vacation.

What was the result? I was stressed and disengaged for the first half of vacation and mildly annoyed for the second half. Surprisingly Disneyland was the highlight for me, and I thought for sure that would be the most stressful day.

Do you or your spouse also get seduced away from rest by trying to keep up with endless work, deadlines, or projects? Do you have trouble unwinding when you do get the opportunity to rest?
Do you struggle to build times of rest into your daily or weekly schedule?

In this series, Creating Healthy Family Rhythms of Rest, I want to explore why rest is so important, what happens when we don’t rest well, what kinds of rest we need, and how to make rest a priority on our calendars.

My hope is that you will feel inspired and empowered to prioritize rest so you might experience what Jesus called “abundant life” (John 10:10). But in order to do this, we need to begin where Jesus began…with Scripture. 

Created to work from rest, not rest from work

Interestingly, the concept of rest in the Bible begins as early as Genesis 2:3, where it says, “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” 

Why did God rest? Did He get tired? It appears He was taking time to enjoy everything He had created, like a great artist stepping back to admire His new masterpiece. Not only that, He was setting up a model, a rhythm of rest for us to follow, which He would eventually call the Sabbath Day (See Exodus 20:8-11)

 But what about Adam and Eve? What were they doing on that first day of rest? We know they had already been given instructions beforehand in Genesis 1:27-31 to tend the garden, co-rule over the rest of creation, and be fruitful and multiply. Did they begin their work right then and there? Unlikely. 

If God created them on the sixth day and rested on the seventh day, and part of the purpose of His rest was to share it with his new creation, it would make sense that they were resting with Him, too. In other words, their lives began with rest, not work. 

Not only did God set up a weekly day of rest, we also see a potential daily rhythm of rest in Genesis 3:8 when God is walking in the garden in the cool of the day, searching for Adam and Eve like a father longing to spend quality time with his children. 

Jesus echoes this theme later in the New Testament when He encourages His disciples to “abide” in Him, meaning to stay in a restful place of deep connection with Him, because, as He said, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 

I don’t know about you, but I try to do a lot of things without Jesus – and that’s the problem.

God instituted the Sabbath, not to give people an excuse to be lazy, but to stop people from working too much. Because when we work too much, not only do we neglect ourselves and the significant people in our lives, we inevitably begin to define ourselves by our work.

In other words, our identity and sense of self-worth can be inadvertently built on what we do instead of who we are – people made in the image of God and loved unconditionally by Him.

The result is that we can become caught in an endless cycle of multitasking and escaping, constantly attending to a thousand things at once, then managing our stress by escaping throughout the day into the fantasy world of social media, entertainment, and video games, trying to run away from the fear that our efforts will never be enough to make us happy. This is why we need to learn the discipline of Sabbath rest.

Note: To be clear, I am not advocating for keeping the literal Old Testament Sabbath Day, which would technically be Friday night through Saturday night. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law on our behalf so our relationship with God would no longer be dependent on keeping outward rules but rather inward submission to His Spirit in us (See Jeremiah 31:31-33, Matthew 5:17, Romans 8:3-4, Galatians 5:16).

Jesus not only taught about rest this way, He also lived out consistent rhythms of rest (See Luke 4:42, 5:16; Matthew 14:13), even inviting His disciples to come along at times (See Mark 6:31-32).

If the Son of God – whose job was to save people from sin and start a discipling movement that would change the world (all in a few short years) – had time to disconnect from the pressures and demands of life and take a rest, then why do we think we cannot afford to stop what we are doing to get some rest? What do we think we will lose if we do?

The truth is, deep down we think we will lose God’s love and approval if we do not perform. And not only his, but everyone else’s, too. So we work harder and harder hoping to appease everyone and earn some blessings and provision along the way. 

All the while, day by day we are being crushed under the weight of the world which we have firmly placed on our own shoulders. 

When Jesus said, “Abide in Me,” he was inviting us to lay down that weight, to lay our fears and concerns at his feet, to open our hearts and hands to Him that He might fill us with His love, grace, and wisdom. Only this can give us true rest, and the deeper our rest is, the deeper our quality of work will be also. 

But what does it look like today to work from rest instead of rest from work? 

In Part 2 of this 3-part series, we will explore 3 types of restful rhythms we all need to stay centered in our identity and be fruitful in our work without burning out. For now, feel free to reflect on these questions…


  1. What are the barriers to getting more rest in your life right now? What are you afraid will happen if you stop and rest more often? 
  2. What sounds restful and life-giving to you? How can you make that a greater priority in your life? 
  3. What might you need to prune out of your schedule to make more room for more rest?














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