God created and gave us times of respite for a specific purpose that’s worth taking seriously
Scripture tells us that work is one of the things God created man to do. Effort and productivity are expected in every area of our lives. Parents strain to bring children into the world, and then for the next 20-plus years must midwife their proper acclimation into society. Businesspeople must produce materials and services that serve the public while making a profit. Pastors ... well, they seem to have no end to their job description! Whatever the responsibility, work seems to incessantly demand our attention. Yet, if regular moments of respite are not prioritized, both quality and quantity of life can diminish.
Craig Sawchuk, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, debunks the idea that more work necessarily means a more productive life. After thousands of hours of research, He concluded that, “If you establish a more balanced lifestyle, enjoying your leisure can in fact improve the quality and quantity of your work.”
Sawchuk rediscovered the value of a balanced work/rest lifestyle. Though his discovery is noteworthy, he certainly is not the first to present it. God invented the idea of a balanced life. Genesis 2:2-3 says, “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” (NASB).
Note that one of God’s distinguishing attributes is that He doesn’t need to rest. Still, He thought enough of the concept He created and mandated to exemplify it by taking an entire day off so that man might understand its importance to his own well-being.
God’s emphasis on rest cannot be overstated. He created us as creatures of rhythm. Our workdays generally start and end at predictable times. After a good day’s labor, our circadian rhythms (the 24-hour cycle found in the biochemical, physiological or behavioral processes of living entities) mandate that we regularly get between five to eight hours of sleep. And we are wired to eat at semi-regular intervals.
Most of us accept and enjoy the fact that daily life is constructed so that balance can be maintained. Yet in our busy lifestyles and efforts to accomplish our to-do lists, the rhythmic priority of biblical rest too often gets overlooked.
Instead, our capableness, competency and strength often deceive us, making us believe we can routinely ignore cyclic respites. And while we may experience no immediate consequences, it’s unwise to assume that the absence of immediate discomfort means we have escaped discomfort altogether.
Even though the unfortunate effects of continually violating God’s prescription for rejuvenation and recuperation may not be quickly noticed, those results can (and will) slowly affect us. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize this until an army of considerable strength—led by stress, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure and the like—wages war against our body, mind and soul.
The success of the assault is determined by how much time we’ll need to recover and rest. The sad thing is that in many instances, we could have avoided this assault. Even more sad is that the rest we should have regularly practiced in prior years would have been much more enjoyable than the forced recuperation required by mental and physical breakdowns.
God knew we would need routine life intermissions. He knew that each period of pause was pregnant with the well-being we would need in later years. Rest is a blessing He intended us to enjoy. We rob ourselves, and those we love, when we don’t take regular intervals to refresh and recharge.
Since most of us have the work-ethic thing down pretty good, let’s figure out how to live the rest of our lives. Live right, live well.
As senior pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Va., Brett Fuller also oversees another church planted from his congregation in downtown Washington, D.C. He currently serves as chaplain of the Washington Redskins, chaplain of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and chairman of the Board for Every Nation Churches in America.