There have been a handful of things over the last few weeks that God has been using to teach me a deeper understanding of rest. I was reading through the Gym Jones website (www.gymjones.com) and I came upon a quote that while a little crude caught my attention. It said “if you don’t have the balls to rest don’t train”. They even developed a shirt with the equation: work + rest = training. At the same time my boss who worked as a fitness trainer told me that they days I get stronger are the days that I rest.
Alongside my fitness messages came some from the ministry here. As we all know Christmas and New Year’s were both on a Sunday. Normally we have two services on a Sunday but I felt lead and was encouraged to have only one service on each of those days. The idea was to reduce our work, rest, change the rhythm and give people a chance to rest. It worked great. We had reasonable attendance for both of those days and changing how we worship helped stretch us to think of who we worship and why.
In addition to my fitness and work life I took some time to be with my parents while they were here over the holidays and we had some fun and unique experiences that had I not slowed down, I would have missed out on. Again rest. To top it all off I reread the chapter on the semicircle in Mike Breen’s book Building a Discipleship Culture. The semicircle is all about working from rest and then moving back to a place of abiding in Christ and being renewed.
End result for me: learn to honor the Sabbath and work from rest. Great lesson and one that I am sure many of us can also learn and integrate into our lives. We are so programmed to work and never rest. We are lead to believe that rest is for the weak and therefore we feel guilty when we slow down, recreate and just be. The idea of the Sabbath is to rest in God, to trust that God is at work in our world and our lives. It is sometimes hidden work like when a muscle is rebuilding after being broken down during a workout. This “hidden” work of God is real work and the end result is that we are fruitful, exactly what we are called to be. If I was to make a workout shirt for Christ followers it would say “rest + work = fruitfulness”. Those two need to exist together and in that order.
In our culture of over work and self reliance taking the Sabbath seriously will be somewhat radical and will be met with resistance. The Christian life should be counter culture and the Christian community should be a place of witness to the world that the deeper value is being over doing. Since God’s kingdom is here and now we are to live in the kingdom and to do that we must learn to rest, abide, prune and then work from the place of grounded living in Christ.