By the providential hand of God, I managed to find a pocket of time to participate in a much needed time of retreat recently. It was in fact a wondrous gift of quietude as the month of September was incredulously hectic. I barely had time for a breather, and my body felt it. I was almost on the verge of burn-out but not quite.

At the retreat which incorporated a labyrinth walk, I found myself at the prayer room, where Jesus was waiting for me in the tabernacle, and at various points of the prayer walk, on either rocks or benches, where I simply drifted off to sleep. I slept for most part of the time that was meant for navigating the labyrinth, and I thought how merciful the Lord was, for He knew exactly what I needed.

In our fast-paced society, the misconception is that rest is a weakness. However, Scripture is replete with calls to rest.

The first is the word, shabat – meaning to come to a complete stop, or rest:

As Exodus 20:9-11 declares: “For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for YHWH your God. You shall do no work that day, neither you nor your son nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals nor the alien living with you. For in six days YHWH made the heavens, earth and sea and all that these contain, but on the seventh day he rested; that is why YHWH has blessed the Sabbath day and made it sacred.” The word Sabbath, in this case is a transliteration of the word, shabat, or shavat in some dictionaries (Do it in Hebrew, n.d.).

The second is the word, nuach. Nuach, from which the name Noah is derived, means to rest or to settle down. If we excavate Genesis 5: 28-29, we read, “When Lamech was a hundred and eighty-two years old he fathered a son. He gave him the name Noah because, he said, ‘Here is one who will give us, in the midst of our toil and the labouring of our hands, a consolation out of the very soil that YHWH cursed.’

It is significant that six chapters in Genesis are centred on Noah, and reading these reveals a plethora of references to rest. The raven could find no bough to rest upon, while the dove did and returned with a sign of hope. The ark eventually came to rest on solid ground, and Noah, in the course of the journey, found rest in the ark as it moved. Nuach was literally in the ark.

For me, the concept of rest had always been that of the Shabat, to be completely still and stop. It was fascinating and profound to me that rest could also be found in movement.

We need a paradigm shift in our ministry. We cannot keep doing, but we must find rest, as modelled in Scripture in our ministering. This is why Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Jesus does not tell us to stop the work of our ministry. The challenge is to find rest in the doing. On one hand we need to rest on the strength of the Father, to rest in Jesus by prayer and drawing away to a quiet place, and on the other, by finding rest as we move in ministry. In that sense, to rest is to be, to abide in. We can only rest as we minister, by abiding in Christ.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan




Do it in Hebrew. (n.d.). Rest. Do it in Hebrew. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from