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Observation (Or, What I Learned on My Summer Vacation)

My family and I recently went to Florida for a week to spend a much needed vacation. God blessed us, gave us an opportunity, so we took it! We went to see a mouse and play with some Legos (yes, I'm speaking of amusement parks), but mostly we spent time relaxing in our accommodations or by the pool. Rest was the operative word (and, unfortunately, not accomplished at the amusement parks), and when we visited a church where we were staying, that was exactly what the message was about! I took the word seriously, and I sought to read, relax and rest my body, mind, and soul. And there is the first observation: God worked, then He rested, He mandated periods of rest, both in days, festival times, and specified years, and it is something we should all do, even in the period of Christ!

The second observation I made was while I was driving. I may have mentioned before, and I'll covet your prayers on this, that I'm the least like Christ while I drive. Over and again, I witnessed people doing things that put my family and many others in danger, all to get 1 or 2 car lengths ahead, to get where they were going, or to get where they were going faster than everyone else. It even went so far as the speed limit. I drove at the speed limit, it seemed most people did not. I don't think these two things are mutually exclusive. I'm not trying to tell anyone else what to do, but I think it speaks of faithfulness. If we are in such a hurry all the time that we disobey the speed limits (which the flipped over car I saw on the way home did), and we're unfaithful in those little things, we're going to disregard everything and everyone else out on the road. It's like that in life, too. If we're not faithful in the small things, the big things become less and less important to observe. We're in such a hurry to get what we want and to get where we're going, we'll ignore the reason those small rules exist: not to keep us back, but to protect us from harming ourselves and others.

The last observation I wish to share with you is the saddened state with which so many of us live. At the parks I saw many people, men and women, trying to draw attention to themselves and their bodies, as if that was all they were or had. I saw many people get ugly and nasty toward others if they did not get what they want (as if the weather could be controlled by the park operators, it can't, can it?), I saw people complain, and even indignantly wander off when they had to wait (everyone had to wait, they were amusement parks!), people fought over spots in line, people complained about other people who paid for certain line privileges', people sought self over and over again, and did not give consideration to others. This really brought down the moods in places that were supposed to be happy! While this wasn't always true, it was something I observed over and over again.

Meanwhile at the pool, where we spent most of our time, people seemed, in their varying states of rest, to mostly get along, look after one another, and to go out of their way for each other, or, at the very least, to try not to get in the way of someone else's rest. This wasn't one hundred percent the case with everyone, but it seemed that it was a great deal different than the amusement parks. Which leads back to the original point. In our pursuit of amusement, indulgences, and busy-ness, we seem to become more selfish, self-centered, and self seeking. In our pursuit of rest, we tend to be more in our God-given state. Work is mandated by God, absolutely: it was mandated before the fall of humanity, but rest is where we meet God, and seek one another. In Christ's command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, He told us to also love our neighbor as ourselves, When we enter God's rest, even as we labor, we pursue God, which means we also pursue those made in His image. In Him only can we become less self-indulgent and vain. In Him only can we have rest and peace. In Him only can we love as we are supposed to love. So let us seek to enter His rest. Hebrews 4 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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