Hello TCS families, friends, students and faculty! I hope you have been enjoying a restful summer. What a curious thing it is, to wish someone a restful summer? But it’s true, isn’t it? We build up the end of a school year and look forward to a rejuvenating period before ramping up in August. But in reality so often this time can be anything but restful. Why is this the case? What can be done about it? Here are a few thoughts on a Christian view of rest taking cues from Jesus through Scripture.
What first struck me when sitting down to think about rest is just how bad Americans are at it. When I was thinking about this blog post, I could recall many conversations between my wife and I where she would confess struggling to just sit down and not be doing something productive. And the reality is that she and many of us, Christians included, struggle with the need to always be efficient with our time. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, some of us ought to be challenged with being more productive with our time (but that’s a topic for another post). The struggle is not whether or not we can ever be productive, but how we see rest and regeneration as an efficient use of our time as well.
First, we should take a look at why we rest. When God created the heavens and the earth, he undertook a monumental task. Now we can assume that because no task is too great for God, that he didn’t need a lunch break to wipe his brow from all that effort. But all the same on the seventh day God rested: “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” (Gen. 2:3). Thus it is clear that God did not require rest and instead he gave this day to humanity as a blessing by making it holy (“set apart”) for the purpose of resting. Not only that, but he models the very respite he expects of us by exemplifying this rest in the creation narrative. This picture of a work week gives us both an exhortation and a challenge. This encourages us to step away from our work for a time because we are following our Father in Heaven by doing so. God challenges our perfection by demanding that we consider our work we accomplished on the other six days of the week good. Christ continues this encouragement and exhortation in his ministry to Mary and Martha.
At the end of the tenth chapter of Luke, Jesus has finished a period of instruction and case study with his apostles and disciples. Luke also includes a story of Jesus’ visit with the two sisters Mary and Martha in the town of Bethany. You probably know the rest of this story but in the end, Mary is praised for sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha is challenged by the Lord, saying “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). Now again, notice that Jesus does not say that Martha completely give up her role as a caretaker of the house. His encouragement for her is that in her current context, she ought to temporarily put down her work and take a moment of rest.
The reality is that a healthy life of rest requires intentionality and faithfulness. Here are some options to think about when considering your life of rest:
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”
I always admired my brother because he would work extra hard at school on Friday and Saturday so that he could enjoy Sunday as a day of rest with a clear conscience. (I confess that I have never lived in such a way to keep my Sundays completely free from work).
- 24-Hour System
And if Sundays are not convenient, consider a 24-hour period from Saturday-Sunday afternoon that would be your family’s period of rest. I personally enjoy this system as it gives intentionality to my weekend to spend with my family but I also have the liberty to prepare for the work week after dinner on Sunday evening.
- Daily Bread System
If neither of those options work, then I would think about setting an hour in the evening, after the dishes are away and before the family goes to sleep, a few times a week when the phones go away, the TV/entertainment device turns off, and the family can simply recharge together. My wife and I have taken to reading through the Bible together and I confess that it gets me excited to do the dishes when I get to look forward to that intentional time with her.
I hope this has at least given you some things to think about. A healthy work/rest balance has been a struggle for me as well (and it does not get easier the older you get). It’s my prayer that the better God’s people are at resting, the more enriched and vibrant our work for him will be.