The Value of Rest

If you’re like me, life is pretty good. I am thankful that I’ve been blessed to live in a country where I don’t go hungry, where I can speak freely about my faith and my views without persecution, and where I am able to —generally speaking — live without fear of violence toward myself or my family. However, that doesn’t mean that life isn’t stressful at times. There are days when I struggle to see beyond the monotony and annoyances of daily life, and I long for purpose and adventure. Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t have purpose in my everyday life… we all do, but when we’re bogged down with our day-to-day obligations and stresses it’s easy to lose that perspective.

In Genesis 1 we read of how God created the universe. On the first day He created light and instituted day and night. On the second day He created the sky, on the third He created land, sea and vegetation. On the forth He created the sun, the moon, the stars and other celestial bodies. On the fifth day He created the birds and fish, and on the sixth He created mammals, insects, reptiles, and other “creeping things”. On that day He also created us, but on the seventh day He rested. I’m not here to dig into the requirements for keeping the Sabbath, but I do want to touch on the benefits of taking time from the stress and burdens of your life.

My family and I have spent the last week or so in house out in the woods of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. For those of you who have never heard of Wellfleet, it’s near the tip of Cape Cod. We came here for a funeral, but stayed for a little bit of a vacation in the town my wife grew up in. It’s small — far smaller than where I grew up. The nearest supermarket is about 25 minutes away. The nearest interstate is about an hour away, and the town is small enough that the local market has P.O. boxes in the front next to the produce because apparently there’s not a real post office. If you want to go to the movies, there is a cinema that appears to have been built sometime in the 1980’s, and in the summer you can still go to the drive-in theater. For most modern city-dwellers this may seem like a different world, and in some ways it is; but to tell the truth, it’s been really nice.

Rather than sitting around the house or going out into the city, we’ve been spending a lot of time outside taking short hikes through the pine woods, collecting rocks and shells from the Atlantic, and searching for marine life in the Bay, and watching our kids in a much more natural setting. Since recording the last episode of the Ancient Abandon Podcast, I don’t even think I’ve read the news. Overall, I feel better. The stress of adult life and everything that goes along with that has been greatly reduced, and while part of that is just being on vacation, it speaks to the idea of our need for rest.

If God didn’t need rest, but on the seventh day He rested after creating the universe, then why did He do it? It was to set an example for all of us. God is immortal, we’re not. He is omnipotent, we’re not. He doesn’t grow weary or tire, we do. He doesn’t lose his mental or emotional stability after prolonged periods of work or stress, we do. If there’s one lesson I’ve taken away from the past week it is a greater understanding of God’s compassionate example in resting. For some of us, it’s hard to stop. After three days of being up here, I actually felt guilty that I wasn’t going to work and wasn’t being “productive”, but at the end of this trip, I feel relieved and refreshed. If you’re one of those people who are just used to constantly pushing ahead and constantly working on things, let me encourage you: it’s okay to stop and take a rest. Resting isn’t bad and it doesn’t mean you aren’t productive. And remember, you don’t have to feel guilty either.

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