Rest for Work, Not From It

Rest for work does not sound intuitive.  I’ll admit it was an idea that was new for me but one I wanted to share as we head into th weekend.  The last few days we’ve talked about how Jesus Set Us Free to Rest, which should empower to develop a Rhythm of Rest in our lives.  For many of us, work can be so draining or laborious that our breaks from work are less of a recharge point and more of an escape.  We work for rest rather than working from rest.  We view weekends and holidays or any time not working as simply an isolation from chaos rather than a launching pad for vitality.

I remember working at Starbucks and having to wake up at 4:00 am each morning in order to get to work at 4:30.  I don’t always remember what happened from the time I got there until the store opened but I do remember being exhausted each day getting home at 1:00 pm only to have to go to school and write papers until 10:00 each night.  Days off stopped being times that I would use to do the things in rest that fueled me, like riding my bike, writing, reading.  Instead, they were excuses to not do anything at all except maybe sleeping in a little.  This turned out to be horrible for me because I found myself working for rest, just trying to get through each week, just trying to make it every day.

What if we stopped working for rest and began resting for work?

What if we spent as much time preparing for rest as we did preparing for work? 

There’s a story in Exodus where God explains to Moses how He wants Israel to treat the Sabbath day, the day of rest and celebration. It’s in Exodus 16v22-26 and v30, all before God gives Israel the law.

Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two oemers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a Sabbath observance, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath there will be none.

16v30: so the people rest on the seventh day.

Rest for Work, Not From It

As you head into your weekend, spend some time preparing for rest.  No one knows you more than you.  No one knows what fuels your heart and soul and breathes life back into you more than you do.  Maybe it’s spending time with God in the Scriptures.  Maybe it’s a good movie.  Maybe it’s a trip to the beach, the forest, the desert, the Philippines, or the park.  Maybe it’s a huge barbecue or a cup of coffee at a local shop.  Maybe it’s planting a garden or writing a blog.  Maybe it’s building a fence or building a fort.  Whatever it is, plan for it.

If we are going to work with excellence, with hope, with excitement, with energy, with life, and with love, we need to rest in Jesus.  If we are going to work from rest then we need to rest for work.  I cannot emphasize enough how ripe the world is for seeing people of faith living their lives with the enjoyment of God evident in everything we do.  I am becoming more and more convinced that it is not the world that must first transformed by Jesus but ourselves that must first be continually transformed by the gracious gospel of Jesus.

This weekend, may you find the inspiration you need to begin creating a rhythm of rest in your life, living in the freedom Jesus has freely given you, in order to start resting for work.  May you find yourself revitalized in your rest.  May you find a renewed passion for life in your rest.  May you find Jesus in your rest.  May rest fuel the life you live.

Rest for Work

Jesus Sets You Free to Rest

When was the last time your body and soul felt rested?

FireworksA few months ago, Alison and I went to a Hotel in downtown Phoenix overnight for a mini-retreat. It remains the only time the two of us have spent a night away from our two children. In October, Soleil will be turning four and Asher will be turning two.  Four years since we’ve been alone together.  And as much as I love and adore my kids, this was a necessary break for us. Here are the only two pictures we have of that night from our hotel room.  The fireworks were outside the hotel room.

Asher in WilliamsIt’s possible that they were also inside the hotel room.  You’ll never know.  It was glorious. We got dressed fancy, walked to a fancy restaurant, had great dinner and conversation, went to a super shady 7-Eleven, bought some candy, headed back to the hotel and were in bed by 10:00 pm watching some TV, and then slept in the next morning until 10:00 am.  Because no one is the boss of us. My soul and my body were refreshed that night.  Still only time we’ve away alone together.

Then last Friday we got out of the 115 degree, haboob creating, monsoon raging weather in Phoenix and escaped to Williams with some friends.  We did nothing but play in nature, catching bugs, and riding on quads, exploring the forest.  For some reason, it seems like a lot of work to stop working.  But it’s always worth it.

So what keeps us from actually resting? I think it’s more than just that our lives are busy.  I think one of the reasons that we found it hard to make time for rest is a simple idea that we have bought into, an idea that has created its own rhythm into our life.  We may not even be aware of it but it’s hiding in there in the midst of all the chaos and busyness of our lives.

There is too much to do.

There is a lot to do in our world.  Maybe you look around and you see all the things that you need to get done. You look around you and you’re afraid you’re missing it while you sleep.  You see opportunities slipping through your fingers.  You begin to live your life through a lens of what you won’t be able to do because you don’t have enough time.  Wherever you land, maybe you’re living  think that there is too much to do.  As a result, the idea of taking time to rest is sounds like a waste of time and completely ineffective.  I want to share the following passage from Scripture with you to encourage you.  In this passage, Jesus’ disciples have just returned from a miraculous missionary venture.  They preached the gospel.  They were casting out demons.  They were healing people.  They were initiating a movement of world transformation, of bringing heaven on earth.  As they were doing this, they returned to their leader, the man who had believed in them, empowered them, and unleashed them in the world.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves (Mark 6v30-32).

Wait.

The need is so obvious!  Jesus and His disciples were surrounded by large crowds of people who were in desperate need of a Savior, a King, of help, of healing, and of hope.  There were so many people coming to Jesus and his disciples that for the second time in Mark’s story of Jesus, they were so busy doing kingdom work that they could not eat.  In that instant, that clear and evident moment of opportunity, Jesus invites the disciples to do something that is unexpected.

He invites them to rest.

Jesus invited his disciples to rest at time in their work where they would have had an unprecedented occasion to bear much fruit for the kingdom.  Instead, Jesus valued rest for His disciples more.  What Jesus is trying to teach us is that we will die with unfinished work. There will always be work that we leave unfinished in this life. If we will die with unfinished work, we must learn to live with unfinished work.  There is too much to do and that’s okay.

We must learn to live with unwashed dishes, dirty laundry, emails that are left unanswered for an evening or a day, phone calls that don’t need to be made, tasks that are left incomplete, or even visions and dreams that are left incomplete.  We must learn to live with unfinished work because Jesus did. He taught us how to trust in the Father, who allows us to live beyond what we think we need to do and sometimes what we’re capable of doing, into a space where we can rest.  Jesus does not only invite us to rest.  In setting the standard, Jesus has set us free to rest.

My hope to you today is to rest in Jesus’ work.  Jesus has set you free to rest.  Embrace that freedom.  Live in that freedom.  Rest in that freedom.  Learn to live with unfinished work.  Jesus invites you to rest.  Jesus has set you free to rest.

jesus sets us free to rest

The Rhythm of Rest

For the last two weeks, I’ve been writing a lot about work and various perspectives on work.  As I have been thinking and reading and writing on work, a core narrative has emerged.  It is a narrative of a culture that is so severely fragmented and is being shaped by a hectic work life that it suffocates us and leaves little room for rest.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work or that work is bad.  It just means that we have to see how work and rest coexist in a symbiotic relationship with one another.  So today, we’re going to begin a new journey together and discover the necessity of developing a crucial rhythm in our life that we all want: the rhythm of rest.

Rest is part of the Natural Order

Establishing a rhythm of rest is not a reinvention of our identity; it is a realignment of that identity. Creating rhythms doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in our life but a simple realization that a reinvestment of focus or energy back towards the way that God designed us will dramatically impact our way of life.  To understand this idea of being designed for rest we will briefly look at Gen 2:1-3. The context for what I am about to read is the culmination of universe making by the Creator.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

At the end of His universe creating work week God took time and rested. Six periods of time to work; one period of time to rest. God was not tired from His work. In Hebrew, the word “shabbot” is used and carries with it the idea of cessation or stopping of labor. This stopping of labor was not meant to be a result of tiredness but instead was a cause of celebration for what the Lord God has done.  Gen 1:31 says that God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good!  God did not cease from work because He was tired.  He was excited!  Rest is demonstrated by God. God rested. The second observation is this:

God designed rest for humanity.

This stopping and celebrating was an intentional and purposeful act. It was not accidental. It was not spontaneous or unintended. There was a reason behind why God did this. God’s demonstration of rest actually wove into His creation this rhythm of work and rest, of labor and cessation, of creation and celebration. It is something special that is a part of the created order. There’s a principle of interpretation among Jewish rabbis that is called “The Principle of First Mention,” where the first mention of a word in the Scriptures defines it. Here, the word “sanctified” appears for the first time and God uses it to designate a period of time, the seventh day after creation. That time is holy. It is special. It is different than the first six periods of time God used to create.  This seventh day had a purpose.

Maya Angelou echoes this divine reminder when she writes that, “Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

May we embrace our design for rest.  May we humbly confess to you, O God, that our jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist without us.  May we embrace your forgiveness and your love and your design for us to build a rhythm of rest.

Rhythm of Rest

Week in Review: Theology of Work, part 2

Kkevin durant work hard talentevin Durant grew up with a work ethic centered around this idea: Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.  It was his unstoppable work ethic manifesting itself in action that made him the second overall draft pick from University of Texas for the 2007-2008 NBA season, where he went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award.  I grew up dreaming about basketball but I clearly didn’t make the cut.  We don’t all get to be NBA superstars and we don’t all get paid for doing what we love to do with the extraordinary talents and spiritual gifts God has given us all.

I don’t believe that means we shouldn’t work hard at figuring out ways to use them however we can, wherever we can, to the glory of God.  That was the idea behind this week’s perspective of a theology of work, which I have linked here.  I hope it encourages you to pursue your dream but more importantly, pursue faithful use of however God has gifted you.

1. Learn to Love What You Do Until You do What You Love reminds us not to neglect doing the work we have with excellence even as we wait to find the work that we love do.  God calls us to work hard where ever we find ourselves.

2. Eat the Frog is a brilliant reminder from Mark Twain about getting the job done.

3. Seize the Opportunity introduces Kim McDonald, someone who was able to pursue work that aligned with her passion and strengths.  This is her story of that transition.

4. Losing Weight without Losing Identity is sound advice from Kim.  It demonstrates the kingdom work she participates in by reminding people to maintain their identity in Jesus.

5. Intersection of Talent and Needsreminds us that God has given us divine opportunities in our lives and workplaces where our talents and the world’s needs intersect.  We cannot wait to get paid for what we love to do in order to start serving those needs based on the gifts that God has given us.