This week’s topic is that we need rest. We probably already know this is a physical and emotional reality, but it may surprise us to know God rests, and says we need it too. In fact, he commands rest in the first book of the Bible after God created the universe.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)
A few weeks ago, we saw that God worked, and that we were created to work with him. Now we see God rested. We are also created to rest with him…and share that rest with others.
To help, God gave a rhythm for rest and work. Six days of work, and one day of rest. It’s not equal, as work still outweighs rest. But it’s rhythmic and balances our need for creation and recreation.
God’s rest is the model for our rest. What is God’s rest like?
First, He stops creating. Producing, accumulating, moving, operating.
Clearly his work of sustaining continued – the earth kept spinning and the plants keep growing. But his work of creating takes a pause.
Secondly, he was satisfied with his work. It’s finished. Some things are complete, good, and need to ripen.
We can see these kinds of rest in us today – we need to kick our feet up and stop creating, and we also need to rest by enjoying and appreciating things like nature, art, music and more.
We’ll look in future weeks at how that looks in our context. But we won’t be suggesting this is about a particular day or practice that creates God’s favour and blessing in our lives. It’s about God having created us, knowing what we need, and giving it to us as a gift, if only we’d take it.
Question: What kind of creating do you do? It’s not just artists – people create order, learning, art, ideas, value, research, roads, buildings and more. What do you create?
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Another extreme approach, in addition to those we saw yesterday, is to see work as something to avoid at all costs. It’s not a new sentiment – many have seen work as a necessary evil in history. The Greek Philosopher Aristotle saw the ability to live without having to work as a primary qualification for a worthwhile life.
Some try to work themselves as hard as possible to get to retirement, financial independence, partner, or some other goal as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, life is seldom forgiving of such imbalance. I once met a recently retired school bus driver. He’d worked hard at a number of difficult jobs in his life, and had just retired to live the good life. Unfortunately he discovered at the same time that his health was failing, and he was going blind and deaf in the process.
He’d worked himself so hard, thinking the promised land was coming, ignoring his children and grandchildren by his own admission. All that time, he didn’t notice he was supposed to live life and rest along the way, not just at the end. No one ever promised or owed him a certain kind of retirement – yet he’d gambled his health and youth on just such a fantasy.
Work isn’t fulfilling, without work in balance. Rest isn’t fulfilling, except in balance with work.
That isn’t to say there won’t be seasons of busy, hard work when rest is hard to find. Starting a busyiness, residency, apprenticeship, times you need extra cash, all need hard work. But we need to balance those times with seasons of rest, as well. Don’t expect it will always come later.
For example, at one time a goal for early, luxurious retirement was a million in assets – but inflation means that a million isn’t worth what it used to be. Look at Toronto real estate. If that had been your goal, it quickly inflated out of reach.
Another example is retirement age – many people thought they just had to make it to age 65. Now suddenly the normal retirement age is two years later, at age 67. By the time I retire, who knows where it will be! If that age was my goal, it only took an act of parliament to snatch it away. Such numerical goals keep changing, and can’t be our true purpose in life.
Question: When will you know it’s time to retire? How much will you need to save, what will you need to accomplish? Will you ever retire?
Just in time for summer's blend of work and rest, Redeem the Commute is starting a new series of daily challenges to help busy people restore life to the commuting lifestyle. This seven week series will look at the meaning and purpose of work, rest, and ancient practices that have helped followers of Jesus to keep the two in perspective and balance for centuries.