The importance of rest

(Photo: Unsplash/Aaron Burden)

"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made" (Genesis chapter 2, verse 2).

We are living in a time and place where everyone is constantly on the go. There is always something to do, somewhere we have to be, someone we have to see. And when the event is over and the deed is done, we start all over again because it is life, and for as long as the clock hasn't stopped on us we will always have work.

So we keep going. And we tell ourselves that what we are doing is good because we are being productive. We are contributing to society, we are providing for our families, what we do is important and we just can't take the time to take a break.

It also doesn't help that the world encourages us to stay busy. How often do you see individuals talking about how little sleep they get? And we sometimes speak about it as if it is something we are proud of. There are people who will tell you that they will sleep when they are dead, and they just keep going and going until their bodies decide that they have had enough.

As Christians we sometimes try to justify overworking ourselves by telling ourselves and everyone that will listen that it is by the sweat of our brows that we shall eat bread and that laziness is a sin. Both are true, but it is also true that we ought to do everything in moderation and what is even more true is that God commanded us to rest.

Back to basics

If we were to go back to the genesis of it, we are reminded that the Lord rested after He was done with creation. Do you believe that the great God who made the entire world in six days was weary and exhausted?

Do you believe it is possible that the Omnipotent God whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours was feeling worn out and beaten down from all the work He did in creation and that was why He rested?

Or do you think that He might have been setting an example for us like the good father He is, because with His infinite wisdom He knew we would be here today?

I'm leaning towards the latter.

The purpose of this article is not to dissuade you from being ambitious, it is not meant to encourage you to be slack in your pursuits toward excellence. It is merely meant to encourage us to stop and take a break sometimes. It is meant to remind us that we were not made to be always "on".

There are certain restorative functions that our bodies carry on while we are sleeping. If we live in a cycle of going to bed at 2am. and waking up at five a.m. night after night on a consistent basis, there is absolutely no way our bodies get the time to repair and rejuvenate to keep us functioning at capacity.

I know that for me, when I'm really tired, I start to forget things. If you know anything about Jamaican culture you will know that rice and peas are staple items for most homes on a Sunday and you would also know that we are serious about our Sunday dinner.

So, imagine – the peas are cooked, the coconut milk is in the pot, you have added the escallion, thyme, pimento and scotch bonnet pepper. All the seasonings are in, and you are about to wash the rice. You open the cupboard to find that there is no rice, and you remember in that moment that you already knew that there wasn't any rice.

That actually happened to me. But I had been going through a period where I was really busy. I was going to bed in the a.m. every night and waking up early to get my daughter (who was probably around four years old at the time) ready for school and of course I was also going to work. On the weekends there was washing, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and the list went on and on. There just wasn't any time to sleep.

And so I forgot to make sure I had the rice to make rice and peas. I wish I could say that I then decided to make rest a priority and put some of the items that weren't as urgent on the back burner but the memory of what happened thereafter is unclear (maybe this a sign).

Temple of the Holy Spirit

If we say that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we were made to give Him glory with all of us, then we must consider that we are doing a pretty shoddy job of maintaining God's temple. We are indeed being sinful when we refuse to take good care of our physical selves. If we are going to serve God and serve His people, we cannot believe that it is ok to be doing it from a constant state of empty. That does not work.

One of the ten commandments actually tells us that we are to put aside an entire day that is dedicated to rest, yet here we are going on and on and being proud of it.

You are not the Energizer Bunny.

It is ok to stop and say "I cannot take this on", "this is too much", "I have to decline". Listen to your body when it tells you that it is tired. Take the time to give it the rest it needs, or it will force you to eventually.

"I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Psalm chapter 4, verse 8).

Republished from Christian Today UK.