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A s I write this, my wife is days away from having our third child. We have two boys, ages five and three, and every day they remind us of their excitement to meet their baby sister by literally jumping off the walls and yelling at the top of their lungs. 

Last weekend, to get some reprieve from their excitement, I took them to the store to get some new LEGO®. We hoped the LEGO® would be an outlet for their energy and excitement, allowing them to create new characters to enjoy so that Hannah and I could put our feet up for a while before we go weeks (and maybe even months) without a good night of rest. 

To our amazement, it worked! They were so excited to play with their new LEGO® that they left us alone and peacefully played together (for the most part) all weekend long. God is good!

Now, imagine what would have happened if I had bought the LEGO®, brought them home, then told the boys they had to wait minutes or hours until they could play with their new toys. They would have been upset and disappointed; our house would not have been filled with peace and rest. 

The first sabbath in the Bible

This “wait to play” disappointment is how I imagine Adam and Eve might have felt when they were created. Instead of getting to build new things and steward the land right away, they were called to rest first, to cease doing anything in order to observe the land and the Creator (Genesis 2:3). Before they created, they were called to pause and to worship the Creator (although Adam did get to name the animals before resting).

I imagine they would have wrestled with God as they stopped and worshiped God. They were probably so excited to survey this new land—it probably even had that new smell. They were excited to use all of God’s good things to make even better things. They had the gift of living and worshiping in the perfect world before sin and brokenness. 

Isn’t that an amazing image? Adam and Eve are living in the perfect garden and feeling excited to make things even better, but they’re told to wait. They are called to the importance of sabbath rest.

Related: Sabbath Rest: How to Keep the Sabbath Holy

The impulse to act against injustice

For most of us, we look at our broken and imperfect world and feel convicted by the Lord to do something. We want to participate with the Holy Spirit to bring the prayers of Jesus to life today: “God, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

This prayer begs us to bring God’s justice to the areas in our lives—our city, nation, and world—where there is injustice. It forces us to think outside of our current realities and to ask the Holy Spirit to use us to bring redemption and reconciliation to a broken world.

Related: Seeking Justice Is Central to God’s Calling for Leaders

However, like Adam and Eve, we are called to cease before we take steps to create a better world for people to experience true justice and shalom.

Like a child excited to play with new LEGO®, stopping to rest seems like a waste of time when we are inspired to do something about the injustice around us. We want to act now. We ask, “How can God use me to bring justice to the world if I rest for 24 hours?”

But sabbath rest is a key to doing justice work well. 

How sabbath rest better equips us to do justice

We sabbath to see how the Lord is forming us so that we can act in the world. We pause to pray and discern how the Lord wants to use us in this unjust world to bring justice, mercy, and compassion (Zechariah 7:9). We quiet and still ourselves, remembering that we are not God and that God wants the best for his children, especially those who are oppressed and marginalized (Matthew 25).

When we pause before acting to bring about justice, we remember that God wants justice and shalom more than we do. God desires the injustices of this world to be defeated. Sabbath rest also helps us to take a step back and see how God has brought us closer to the garden of shalom than we thought—the kingdom of heaven is coming here on earth.

Make no mistake: God wants you to act against injustice, and God will use you if you are willing.  Remember that God wants all his children to experience peace and justice more than you do! But following God sometimes means living the life of paradox—resting before action—to see God’s full redemptive plan at work in our lives and in the world.

Ben Aguilera

Ben Aguilera is the founding and lead pastor of the Boulevard Church in Holland, Michigan. He and his family can usually be found at the beach, at a park, or around a table with friends enjoying a good meal and conversation.