Our physical bodies are marvelously engineered. Along with our mind, emotions, will, and—in biblical language—our heart, the complexity of our whole being is beyond comprehension.
To keep all of this functioning well, a basic contribution on our part is rest—sleep, night by night, and sabbath, a day of rest each week.
From creation until now, all humankind has slept as a physical necessity (Genesis 1:3-6; Psalm 127:1-2). God has also designed into humankind, for our health and wholeness, the need to rest week by week (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-10).
We do not naturally rest well. In Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren contends that rest takes practice. In the same way that children learn to walk, run, and talk, we need to learn good patterns for sleep and sabbath.
To sleep well, we benefit from a routine. We can stop our evening activities early enough to wind down. We can set aside electronic devices. We can take time for Bible reading and prayer. We can brush our teeth, turn out the lights, crawl into bed, and shut our eyes—in ordinary, repetitive ways that enable us to get to sleep.
We can also develop good patterns of sabbath rest. We can get to bed in good time on Saturday night. We can be consistent in worship. We can devote the day to activities that are recuperative. In her book 24/6, Tiffany Shlain encourages us to be daring--to turn off all screens and unplug from digital life for a full day!
There is not necessarily a right way to get to sleep or to rest on Sunday. We need to find patterns that are manageable in our circumstances. One way or another, we can discover, practice, and learn good patterns of rest.
God has given us the privilege and responsibility to rest. In the complexity of our life, rest won’t resolve every problem. More often than not, though, being rested will enable us to wake to a new day, and start a new week, renewed in faith, hope, and strength.