Nap time. A most dreaded phrase by toddlers everywhere, but the elusive thing longed for by many adults.
To adults, sometimes this word feels like a four-letter word.
Something heinous. Sinful even. Or, at best, unproductive.
“Stop? I can’t. I must keep busy; there is so much to do!” We often mull over such words in our minds.
Why this incessant need for work? Why must we always be busy? Is there never a time for rest?
I remember one particularly weary afternoon a few years ago when I had “a ton of work to do.” (Whatever it was has long been forgotten.) I was talking to my daughter on the phone, lamenting my looming tasks when, on the spur, I told her: “Call me lazy.”
That’ll get me going, I thought. This is a specific fear that I have — being lazy, slothful or wasting time. I grew up with the Puritan work ethic heavily instilled alongside the Benjamin Franklin quote: “Do not squander time. That is the stuff life is made of.” Excellent quote, but we all need a break. Don’t we?
So she did. She called me lazy, slothful, all the things, and she just kept going. “Okay, Okay. Stop! Ugh.”
She finally stopped. We laughed. But, it did get me up and going and out of my slump. I got up and going, but I also got to thinking about my motivations about work.
What were they?
Work just to work?
Work because of being afraid of looking lazy?
Work because of the fear of being slothful?
Okay, my thinking must be somehow skewed here.
Recently I saw an adage: “If you can’t rest, work is your idol.”
Surely, somewhere there is a healthy balance between these two opposing ideas of work and laziness.
Yes, there is.
It is a wonderful thing called rest.
Rest isn’t a four-letter word; it is a gift.
Literally, it is a gift from God.
A good gift. A very good gift.
Think all the way back to Genesis.
In the beginning, God created. Then, God rested.
Since the Garden, God also gave rest.
He gave us Sabbath rest.
This is a gift to us, a needed gift that should be employed. Rest.
We are called, nay, we are commanded, to rest.
When we rest, we notice, we are made aware, we adore.
It is a command, but one that is also a beautiful and lovely gift.
Land lies fallow in order to rest, to regenerate, to be more productive.
Yes, we must work, and no, we shouldn’t be lazy. We should not “shirk the work,” as Eustace did before he turned into a dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Somewhere in between lies a sweet spot. Rest for the weary. Refreshment for our souls.
We must rest. It is necessary. We must rest from work in order to work again.
Rest so that we can continue the work.
Rest so that we can be renewed and restored.
Rest so that we can pray and worship.
Rest so that we can give and serve.
Rest so that we can care and love.
Rest. It is a most wonderful, kind gift. One we don’t have to work for.
As Houston Baptist University English Professor Louis Markos states in his article, On the Road with John Bunyan: “Bunyan prepared me well for the subtle stings and snares, the treacherous traps and temptations, that lure pilgrims away from the Right Road; but he also taught me there are many places of refuge along the way. The Palace Beautiful, the River of God, the Delectable Mountains — all provide rest and refreshment for the weary pilgrim. The Protestant Work Ethic need not define and discipline our every waking moment. There’s room for leisure and fellowship, laughter and cheer, beauty and awe within this vale of tears. We may be sojourners passing though a world not our home, but that shouldn’t prevent us from making merry in those temporary yet lovely inns that offer us rest for the night.”
Take delight in these restful moments, for they strengthen us for the work to be done.
by Stephanie Boss, CCS Fifth Grade Teacher