In the late 1920s, America’s economy was heading into a depression. Robert Woodruff, Coca-Cola’s president, was looking for a way to set Coke apart from other soft drinks and make it more appealing at a time when people were struggling financially. Life for the individual was getting busier in a more modern world and Woodruff wanted to encourage people to slow down and take time to enjoy Coke and to drink it often. His hope was to make Coca-Cola more than just a beverage, he hoped to label it as a pleasurable escape from the rush of the everyday world. The first slogan Coke came up with in 1923 read, “Pause and refresh yourself,” with a second line that read, “Our nation is the busiest in earth. From breakfast to dinner there’s no end of work.” Perceived as too negative, in 1929 Woodruff changed the slogan to, “The pause that refreshes.”
In Woodruff’s day and age, he recognized the effect that societies’ overall busyness and never-ending work schedule had on them. I wonder if he was still alive today if that assessment would change any? Has our world gotten any less busy? Have our days gotten any less crowded with never ending schedules and to-do lists? As we have noted in our “Minister-of-the-Roundtable” discussions on Sunday nights, Solomon answers that question for us by stating, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.” Ecclesiastes 1:9-10.
We are still in need for a “pause that refreshes” in our lives today. Thankfully, and to no surprise, our God has already addressed the need of pausing in our lives and has been for thousands of years. Think back to the fourth commandment of the ten commandments in Exodus 20:8-10, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” God, in His ultimate wisdom, implemented a weekly day of rest, the Sabbath day, for His people. This rest had a purpose though!
Continuing in Exodus 20 we see in verse 11 one reason for the Sabbath, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Just as God rested or ceased from His works in Genesis 2:2, He calls for us to do the same. On this day of rest His people were instructed to remember their Creator as they imitated Him in their own day of rest. The Sabbath was not only a day of physical rest, but of spiritual reflection for all that God has done and was doing.
So, how does this provide rest in our lives today? Jesus answers that question in Matthew 12:8, “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Our Savior is the lord of the Sabbath, meaning He is not only over it, but He embodies it. Paul would expound on this greatly in Hebrews chapters three and four where he lays out the theme of rest that starts with God resting in Genesis and ends with the eternal rest he promises through Jesus. God is desiring for us to find rest in our lives today, the only question is whether we stop long enough to participate. My prayer for Christians living in the world today is to simply answer the request Jesus makes in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What is it that you need rest from today? Are there things that stress and exhaust you? Take your weariness to Christ! Are there sins and temptations that leave you heavy-laden with guilt and shame? Take your burdens to Christ!