Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
When was the last time you rested? Like, really rested?
I’m sure we’ve all seen the statistics and research about how Americans are among the most overworked people in the world. Americans on average work longer hours per week than their European counterparts, and they receive fewer paid holidays. We have no guaranteed maternity leave, while other countries insist on granting mothers and fathers paid family leave while their children are young.
We go on fewer vacations, take fewer sick and personal days, and we work more overtime than we should. We buy into the lie that busyness equals productivity. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m seeing more and more studies that show the importance of rest, time off, and brain-breaks throughout the day. Something as simple as a 10-15 minute break to walk around the office or around the block can actually help spur creativity and productivity. If we don’t take breaks and if we don’t find time to rest and disconnect, then we are in danger of burnout.
I saw this video the other week on one of the YouTube channels I follow. It speaks to this very idea, but not in a Christian or religious way – so mind some of the language. But his points are spot on.
I think God knew that we needed rest. He created us, after all. I think he would be a pretty good judge of what we need. But here’s the thing about God – he never calls us to do something he is unwilling to do himself. God calls us to rest (as we’ll see in the 10 Commandments), so God sets the precedent by resting.
I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how good breaks and rest can be for our minds. I’m terrible about this, but when was the last time you did chores without listening to music or a podcast? When was the last time you exercised without your earbuds in? When was the last time you drove somewhere in silence? When was the last time you just let your mind wander freely? For me it’s almost never.
But I want to get better about it.
We are creative beings. Part of what it means to be made in the image of God is that we carry on his creative work. We can add value and beauty to the world around us unlike any other creature. We care about art and design and color and architecture and texture and lighting and ambience and aesthetic. God does, too. We get to participate in his creativity, but not to the point of losing ourselves in the work.
God rested. Rest does not equal laziness just like busyness does not equal productivity. We think people are either busy or they’re lazy. But so often we end up staying busy with things that don’t matter – and that can be as bad or worse than laziness.
God rested, and it was a holy, intentional rest. The seventh day was set aside, it was different than the other days. Again, we’ll talk more about Sabbath specifically in a few days. But God knows the importance of holy moments, holy spaces, holy days and times. We were not created to go 100% seven days a week. We were created to live in a rhythm of life – evening, morning, work, rest, worship, create, feast, celebrate, get busy, relax.
Don’t buy into the lie that you have to work harder than God. There’s a time for work and a time to rest.
Have you ever felt burnt out? What was that like? What led to that experience? What did you learn from it?
Why do you think society places such an emphasis on being and staying busy? In what ways might that busyness be hurting our physical health? our families? our churches?
Look at your daily schedule. Mark out some times to rest, to take breaks, to enjoy nature, and to disconnect from social media and the demands of your electronic devices.