The Work/Rest Rhythm

For a long time, I dreaded Sundays. I hate sitting still and, as you may have guessed from my last blog post, The Myth of Balance, I have a strong perfectionist streak. Put those two together…and it isn’t pretty. I could never rest in a way that felt right, and I often ended up tired and frustrated.

I still don’t have all of this sorted out, but I am beginning to see a better pattern. In the Bible, God models a work/rest rhythm, and from the beginning, establishes this pattern throughout Creation, with seasons for planting, growth and harvest, and on a macro-level, even our own life stages. Over and over, He shows us the need for ebb and flow, new beginnings and new endings, work and rest.

This idea that there is a work/rest cycle has been a huge help for me. In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon reflects, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven,” and some of the items he lists are pretty stressful! According to God’s design, rest provides a way to recover from the stresses of work. Stress gets a really bad rap, and rightly so if we are living in a constant state of heightened stress, but stress, when it is followed by recovery, is the necessary pattern for growth. Just as in the physical realm, where our muscles only get strengthened and remain healthy when they are stressed and then allowed to rest, so it is with our souls: in work, whether that work is inside our homes or out, we are challenged and stretched; in rest, we recover from our stresses, which brings about strength and growth. Over time, we learn how to face both seasons of high demand and seasons of rest with the same confidence and lightness.

As I mention here, Sabbath is not just “taking a break.” It is taking a real rest with Jesus, keeping company with Him and gaining His heart and perspective in order to recover and heal from the demands of our efforts. Jesus knows how to rest, and He wants to show us. It’s not natural in our current culture, so if we are to rest, Jesus must show us how. It is a gift!

God is showing me more and more that Sabbath is a “get to” not a “have to.” As I turn away from my striving in order to be with Him, I am learning that rest is an ongoing gift to unwrap and enjoy.

Resources

Did you start the year committed to working/resting differently? How is it going? If you are not quite where you want to be, is there someone who can help you get back on track?

Hebrews 4:3 talks about “today” as the right time to rest. What are the advantages and potential dangers of viewing “Sabbath rest” as something we need all day, every day? What are the advantages and disadvantages of setting aside a day each week to rest?

To dig a little deeper, Margaret recommends…

  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg
  • Buy A Cabin: The Theology and Practice of Rest by Robert L. Franck
  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature by Peter Scazzero