On the seventh day, I like to think God was really bored.
Six days had flown by where He could immerse Himself in His job. He was His own boss, with complete creative control, and until the last day He didn’t even have to deal with a client. As jobs go, Creator of the Universe must be a fairly hard one to take a day off from. What would you do with it? There weren’t even any kitten videos on YouTube yet.
When we’re high on the success of a job that’s going well, ‘rest’ often seems like a very strange notion. Why put down that productive, helpful thing that others are relying on you finishing when you could just as easily keep going? Why spend your evenings moulding the sofa to your backside when you could be learning a new language or getting in some overtime for a little extra pay? In a world so full of activity and affordable caffeine products, why slow down at all?
The fact that the Bible includes rest in the creation story reminds me that rest is incredibly valuable. No matter how important my job, if the God of the universe can take some time to stick his feet up and watch Deal or No Deal then I’m fairly sure I can too (although I’d recommend Breaking Bad). And it’s only when you do slow down that you realise what makes rest so great.
As a secondary school teacher I follow the termly patterns of holidays, and every summer break I follow exactly the same routine: I dash out of the office as soon as the bell rings, scream “goodbye forever, losers!” to the students, and race home to begin my holiday as soon as possible.
Once I’m home though, I find myself completely and utterly bored. I don’t do it on purpose. But it’s only out of that empty space that the real joy of rest comes, because space begs to be filled.
After a few days of staring at the wall I start to remember hobbies that I’d forgotten I had, and friends that I hadn’t seen since we both got Facebook accounts. I discover new passions, try new things and find time to take pleasure in activities I usually cram into the gaps between more important jobs. Once I’ve made room for these things, they tend to want to stick around.
So rest is not just good because it recharges us for work. It’s good because it’s a statement of freedom. It’s a declaration that the world will keep spinning even if we’re not turning the wheel, and that all of our tomorrows will still arrive without us worrying each one into place.
God’s command for us to rest frees us from the slavery of the career path and the endless drive for self-improvement. It reminds us to place our faith in the creator and trust that His plan has room for us to leave work at the door on our way out.
Those days at the start of the summer holiday remind me of how good it is to rest, and set me up for a better year of balance. When I’m at work I really try to commit myself fully to the job, and when I leave I really try to commit myself to rest. It’s so important, but it’s not easy.
If this is but one of the many tabs you have open, or if you’re reading this on your iPad in the shower then you’ll surely understand how hard it can be to find a spare moment in the day. (Well done for getting this far; make sure to clean behind your ears.) At first, I found this was something I had to forcibly wedge into my diary. But as you give it time to breathe you’ll find that it grows and your happiness will grow with it.
Rest is not about making us better at work, and it’s not about using our time ‘efficiently’. It’s about making a statement that we are not slaves to our work. Why not take some time this week to get completely and utterly bored, and see what marvellous new places it takes you?
You can read the other articles in our workplace series here.