taking gospel naps when we are weak

Today I was reading a work by Edmond Clowney, How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments.  I am on the chapter about the fourth commandment – “Remember the Sabbath Day by Keeping it Holy.”  I found some insightful things regarding my preoccupation with weakness.

I don’t know where you are in your wilderness of weakness.  Maybe neck deep in rising floodwaters.  Maybe knee deep in quicksand.  Maybe scratched and bruised as you bushwhack through life’s jungle.   Maybe frustrated with people who write in metaphor.  I don’t know your weakness – but I KNOW this: rest is possible here and now for those who are in Christ – no matter how exhausted you feel.

Clowney makes the point that not only has God called us to rest on the Lord’s Day… he has told us something about himself through the very Sabbath command.  “The Sabbath marks the fact that God delights in the presence of his people” – enough that he would command us to stop and sit down and just be with him in the middle of the desert (or floodwaters, or jungle) of life.  Say it slowly: “My God delights in me enough that he wants me to rest from surviving this world of weakness to be with him in my weakness as I am.”  Nothing more.  Not Sabbath performance.  Not Sabbath discipline (though it requires it).  Just Sabbath rest.  Can I do that for even 5 minutes without the TV on?  Hmm…

And here’s the thing: this is all more spiritual than it is physical!  Christ fulfilled the Sabbath rest for us – see Colossians 2:16-17.  The Sabbath day (when we rest and recognize our physical weakness) is but a shadow of the rest Christ has purchased and promised to his people (a spiritual rest borne out of our recognition of spiritual weakness)!  Jesus is Lord of your rest because He is Lord of the Sabbath.  This is speaking of gospel rest! 

So I guess we could say it like this.  God has called us to take gospel naps in the midst of our weakness in anticipation of the eternal gospel rest where we will experience the pleasure of God and will pleasure in God forever – no weakness to wake up to then.  “There still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God”(Hebrews 4:9).

So, try God on this one.  Take a gospel nap in your weakness.  Set aside time.  Preferably on the Lord’s Day before or after all of God’s people gather in corporate gospel rest time (like kindergarten, I guess).  But do it.  Rest in your weakness.  We need physical naps when we are tired.  We need spiritual gospel naps when we are weak. 

When have you let the Lord of Rest recalibrate you for the weakness of this broken world? 

“Only united to Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, can we fulfill all our Sabbath duties, finding rest in God’s presence and entering into an eternal rest that satisfies all the hope of the original Sabbath day of rest.  Not only will we find rest for our bodies, as they are transformed in resurrection, but we will find in Christ both our place of rest and our time of rest…”  – Edmund P. Clowney

There is more here… so email me/comment if a conversation would help. 

6 thoughts on “taking gospel naps when we are weak

  1. Nathanael says:

    You mention “The Lord’s Day”. What day is this and why is it preferable?

    In Hebrews 4:1,10, and 11 it talks about us entering that rest. I take that to mean that we are to live in that rest now. Obviously we still do physical work and need to take times to rest from that, but the spiritual side of it that the author of Hebrews is talking about is already ours. I think we can take more than just a nap-sized helping of God’s Pleasure in us and our pleasure in Him. In fact, if we always live like God is pleased in us, we might not reject what we see as “weakness” so quickly.

  2. weakchristian says:

    Thanks N. Got me reading the whole of Hebrews 4 and you’re right, the “rest” is referred to as something we have already entered. I appreciate your last sentence: if we knew we could always rest in the pleasure of God through Christ, we wouldn’t demand circumstantial life weakness to be gone – because we would BE at rest! Nice man.

    I am not sure when “the Lord’s Day” began to be used. I know that textually, two places point to the first day of the week – the Lord’s Resurrection Day – as the new day in which God’s people gathered together. Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:16. Even more, in Revelation 1:10, John talks about his being in the Spirit “on the Lord’s Day.”

    The Westminster Confession of Faith (1640s) always speaks of “the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day.” I guess at that point in church history the two were synonymous in conversation. I presume “the Lord’s Day” has simply been the way that the church could articulate why it gathered on the first day of the week rather than the seventh.

  3. so what’s this mean

    does this mean, rest in my unrighteousnesses,

    does it mean rest in the filth of my sin?
    how can I do that???

    that’s how I interpreted it but maybe I’m wrong

    I’m sure you can explain it better so my little mind can understand

  4. brother john says:

    This is somewhat away from the Lord’s Day discussion, but I heard a song today that made me think of another aspect of weakness that I had never thought about.

    by Shane and Shane

    Father of lies, coming to steal kill and destroy
    All my hopes of being good enough
    I hear him saying, “cursed are the ones who can´t abide.”

    He´s right, hallelujah, he´s right
    The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed
    That I am cursed and gone astray
    I cannot gain salvation…
    Embracing accusation

    Could the father of lies be telling the truth of
    God to me tonight?
    That if the penalty of sin is death, then death is mine
    I hear him saying, “cursed are the ones who can´t abide.”

    The devil’s singing over me an age old song
    That I am cursed and gone astray
    Singing the first verse so conveniently over me
    He’s forgotten the refrain.

    What a great concept that even the Devil’s schemes that try to expose and bring to light our weaknesses almost reconfirms our need for the gospel. Even the Devil sings the song of the redeemed – he just leaves off the refrain.

    Thought you might like it. It is a great song from Shane and Shane’s new CD entitled “Pages”.

    Sorry to get off track… back to the “Lord’s Day”


  5. Dogfreid says:

    Check out my latest post on the Sabbath and feel free to comment.

  6. weakchristian says:

    Nice to have a conversation with the side dish of a sweet song.

    As to Johnny Schuchman’s question about Sabbath rest: it means being in a place of peace where you can rest, literally. For example, when one is in the middle of a war, they shouldn’t be able to stop and nap on the battlefield. But the gospel makes true rest possible now even when we are in a battle. The spiritual war with our flesh (weakness) rages, but the gospel peace of Christ makes it so we are safe in the sight of God’s eyes as those who are righteous and given his peace. So to rest is to know that in the midst of the battle you can stop from fighting for your life and take pleasure in the one who is fighting for you, who has indeed set the victory in motion. You can nap on the battlefield because your identity is not in your being a fighter, but your being a child who is cared for by God. Someday, the rest will not be surrounded by the battle.

    Sorry for the figurative language. Hope its less technical and more embraceable. But good Q JS.

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