We all need rest from time to time. Part of the rhythm of our lives has to be rest. Often in our cutlure we’re encouraged to be busy, to always be doing something. How busy you are can, in some people’s eyes, define how important you are, your social standing, how you’re percieved and ultimately your entire worth.
Often people push ourselves to the extent that they’re dead on our feet working so hard and then going out doing all sorts of things all the time, always active – and it can get to the point where we feel guilty or we’re losing out on something if we take time off and have some proper rest, like going on holiday.
Certainly that’s often what I’ve felt when I’ve considered going on holiday in the past. That I’m missing out, that I should be working hard.
That I’ve done something wrong.
Sometimes religion doesn’t help with these things does it?
As Christians who are part of a church we can be made to feel like we need to be there as much as possible and involved as much as possible, and that we should be serving God all the time and that taking a holiday is somehow absolving our resposibilities.
I’m lucky to be part of a church which is in no way like this, but I have been in other churches where I have definitely felt guilty about taking a break, about having a rest.
But the reality is that the whole rhythm of life as God lays it out of us in the Bible is the Sabbath – and the Sabbath is a rest.
Whatever you believe about creation, in the creation story in Genesis God actually built the universe and creation and took a rest on the seventh day.
We’re made in his image.
That’s a metaphor then for us.
God wants us to rest. He wants us to enjoy His creation.
God has made our physical bodies so that we need rest. He wants us to take time out and slow down, and remember what life is all about.
Rest is part of God’s rhythm for us. It always has been.
The fact is that if we work or are on the go 24-7 for a sustainted time without proper rest, eventually we’re going to burn out.
Its no surprise in the 24-7 culture we live in that the number of people suffering from stress and stress-related conditions, is increasing.
People are pushing themselves way too much, because they’ve subscribed to the consumer dream. They have bought into the secular religion which tells us we need to do as much as we can and work as hard as we can to build our own kingdoms, because no one will help us or do it for us. So we can’t trust or depend on anyone else, and taking time out to do anything will set us back somehow.
That’s often why people who aren’t Christians feel guilty about taking a holiday or enjoying themselves – its because they feel like they are missing out on something, and that comes from the advertising and culture we live in which has conditioned us that way.
Rest is good.
Holidays are good.
Taking time out, slowing down, is good.
Now I’m not talking about slacking off and doing nothing all the time, I’m not talking about being irresponsible or sleeping in all the time.
That’s not rest, that’s just laziness. It’s’ abuse of rest.
I’m talking about planning in rest into your life, making it a regular pattern, a discipline.
If you are lucky enough to be able to afford a holiday then once or twice a year there’s no problem in taking one . That is, provided your life isn’t one long holiday with no purpose or mission, and as long as when you are on holiday, you do something that will feed you – body, soul, mind and strength.
Something that will leave you refreshed and inspired, and full of energy and drive as you return to work.
If we truly managed to get a ryhthm that involved regular, proper, rest, that we would have less need for long holidays every year. I think God’s ideal for us is that we don’t need the long holiday, but that we get a regular pattern for rest – and that’s something I’m hopefully going to try and find in the coming months.
But, in the right context, there is nothing wrong with a slightly more extended break, a disconnection from work, from the things you normally do.
It’s a chance to rest in the presence and peace of God, and reconnect with Him. Its chance to enjoy Him and His creation, and remember that He sustains the world and keeps it going, not you.
I’m going away for my first proper ‘holiday’ for years in the next few days, and I’m not going to write any of my book, any of my blog, or take my laptop with me. I will take some books, take my journal, and although I will have my phone, I am going to try and keep it off most of the time – and not reply to everything as soon as I get it.
I know that if I don’t, I’m not going to have as much energy and I’m going to eventually burn myself out. I know I need a rest…
…and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Neither do you.
When was the last time you really devoted some time to ‘rest’?
Do you ever feel guilty about going on holiday or taking time off? Why?
How do you think you can create a regular pattern of rest in your life?
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