Thursday, August 6, 2009

The blessedness of rest, the danger of sloth

After a very busy summer, Alyson, the kids, and I enjoyed a weekend at Lake Granbury with no phone, no television, and no internet. Unplugged from all the gadgets that steal minutes from our day, we did things slowly. We skipped rocks. We dug for clams. We worked a thousand piece puzzle. We sat on the dock and fished without catching any fish. We rested. And it was good.

I admit such slowness doesn’t come easily for me. As I’m sure is the case for you, too, there is always something else to do on my to-do list. When tempted to skip out on moments of rest, on Sabbaths for the soul, I remember the story that’s told of a old preacher who upon coming back from a day off was met by a crusty parishioner who sarcastically noted, “The devil never takes a day off.”

Without missing a beat, the wise old preacher responded, “That’s probably what turned him into a devil.”

In attempting to work till we drop, who are we attempting to imitate? Obviously, not God. From the very first chapter of the Bible, God models for us the holiness of rest. We need rest in our lives. It is God ordained. And if you’re too busy to rest and find time to just be still in God’s presence, you’re as Alister McGrath puts it, “busier than God ever intended you to be.”

Of course, God wants us to both rest and work. Each has its proper place in our lives. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but all play will make him even duller. God’s command to rest is not a call to laziness or sloth. Such overindulgence can lead to a dulling of the spirit as readily as being a workaholic. And a dull spirit is wide open to the temptations of the flesh. After all, this week’s sermon text, which reports the most notorious sin in the Bible outside of Genesis 3, begins with the often overlooked phrase, “Late one afternoon, David got up from a nap. . . ”

So let us work and let us rest. Let us do both for the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I heard Chuck Treadwell say that the command to keep the Sabbath holy was the commandment that we most often and most proudly break, and he quoted Eugene Peterson saying when we say, "I'm very busy" we often mean "I'm very important."