A friend of mine had a baby recently – and her husband took a week or so off before heading back to work. I asked him how it was going.
He said, work is alright, but it’s different now . I just don’t find it matters as much as it used to. I won’t quit or anything, but it just seems less important to me.
True enough. My friend still needs to work, but there is a new member of his family who is far more important than every possible promotion, raise or accolade.
We all need this kind of shift in perspective – not by all going and having a kid – but by inviting God to be at the center of our lives.
When there is no ultimate goal or concern in our lives, or that varies day to day, or simply becomes whatever is most urgent, busyness consumes us. We can’t stop it or get away from it.
If God is the ultimate center of our lives, then everything else falls into place around Him. James, who we interviewed a couple weeks ago was consumed by the lifestyle his lucrative career could buy, and lost himself. In the end, he quit, took a break, and eventually came back – but able to see that work wasn’t everything. You can watch the interview again here: https://vimeo.com/72458543
He and my friend with the baby both realized they were enslaved to their work, sometimes without even realizing it.
This kind of slavery to work is something God wanted to prevent Israel from ever experiencing again, or inflicting on anyone else. In Deuteronomy 15:1-2 and Deuteronomy 15:12-15:
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor.”
“If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
We’ve heard a lot about the Sabbath day so far, but this introduces the idea of the Sabbath year where Israel was meant to release every debt, and release every person who was so indebted they had sold themselves into slavery.
Why? Because God had released their nation from slavery, and this would be a constant reminder. Every week, a day off, and every 6 years, a year off for crops and for the lowest servants. This would be a clear sign they were not worshipping work, but worshipping God.
That same act of liberation needs to be in our rest. We need to tell ourselves we are resting to prove we are not slaves to our employers, to our bank accounts, to our pride or anything else. We are children of God, not defined by work.
There is more to me than my work.
This inner shift has to come before we try making outer, structural changes to our weeks and years, like we’ll discuss next week.
Question: What would it take for you to see your work differently? What could change for a year, or what life event, would break the cycle?