When we travel by road and cross places where repair work is being done, we normally see the sign “CAUTION. MEN AT WORK”, but we never come across a sign that says “TAKE CARE. MEN AT REST”. Probably the only place we can expect to see something similar is at a cemetery, as an epitaph!
In the fast-paced activity-prone, post-modern world of today, rest is probably the most neglected and sidelined aspect of life. The word rest is often confused with vacation, which is time allotted by an employer for an employee to not be present at work.
Vacation is defined as taking a break from regular work or routine to relax. The concept of sabbatical leave, popular in the corporate world, is different from vacation and has come to mean a time period in which a person does not report to regular work. It is being given a chance to step back from regular routine to focus on personal enrichment and professional development.
Since the fall, rather than drawing security from a relationship with God, men’s self-esteem has become tied to their jobs and their achievements in the workplace. Retirement blues are real for men as they find it hard to live a life disassociated from work. They are prone to ill health and sudden heart attacks that often prove to be fatal.
Work is from God, but being addicted to work and receiving affirmation from the performing of it is detrimental in all respects. Work and rest were meant to be a rhythm of life rather than each of them being an obsession or as a means to self-worth!
Two pictures from the Bible come to mind when considering the aspect of rest for men – Christ asleep in the bottom of the boat and Jonah asleep in the bottom of the ship!
In both instances, a storm is blowing and the vessels in danger of sinking. Both men were resting in apparent oblivion, unaware of the mayhem surrounding them. Both were conscious and confident of God’s care and protection over their lives, yet not in the same way or manner.
One was resting in the calm confidence of doing God’s will and the perfect stillness of being in the core of His purposes. The other was resting in the stupor of knowing that he was out of His will and slept on in the uncaring indifference that continued disobedience brings.
When woken up, one rises up to take complete control of the situation, while the other finds the answer in passive acquiescence of guilt. One commands the winds and the waves into obedience, while the other quells the raging squall and seas through self-immolation! One would even die in obedience to the purposes of God, while the other would rather die than obey God!
Both brought deliverance and praise to God, but the manner in which they did it says much about how a man can find and be in true rest in contrast to pseudo-rest that disobedience brings!
Jonah’s stubbornness in not yielding to God and Christ’s willingness to submit to Him perfectly portrays the struggle in attaining rest by a man!
Christ shows the way to true rest and restfulness, both as God and man. While on earth He was never anxious, flustered or worried, so much so He could say ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now, as God and seated on the right hand of the Father, He is waiting patiently for His enemies to become His footstool. Jesus is the perfect example and perfect episode of rest!
The Apostle Paul was also one who walked in this true rest even in the midst of a dangerous storm or when placed in a dungeon. He could encourage his fellow passengers to not despair and sing along with Silas when in a dark place. Daniel and Joseph demonstrate this same rest, even when accused wrongly and thrown into prison.
Scripture declares You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isa 26:3 NIV).
May you our men, fathers, brothers, sons, grandsons as well as mentors and mentees, dwell in the shelter of the Most High so as to find rest in the shadow of the Almighty!
Help me O Lord Creator of all, God of heaven and of the whole earth, Lead me completely into the perfect rest, That you have kept in store allotted for me.
Carved out with care, Fashioned with flair You have ordained my special lair, For it to be when I tear.
Help me to let go of the old cast, The familiar way of the real past, Trusting the One Who has held me fast, Knowing He would be with me till the last.
Father, I have nothing to show forth nor anything to call my own All I have on the altar laid for your fire to consume. Transition me through this valley of shadow of death, With your gentle strength and your great presence.
Father, it’s a new path I haven’t walked before, My heart and my flesh shrink from the cross to bear. It’s not that I doubt your plan for me nor your skill to repair, It’s the humiliation that I would need to stand and daily endure.
Let the waves that break over me in quick succession Only prove that it is all for my own progression. Anchor me in firm stand until they are in recession, So that I will not sink and be lost in deep depression.
Birth in me the life of Christ Mold me true in His image so clear. Hold me close and hide me in you Until I see your face on the other side!
Recently my family and I have been having a short season of total rest – son had annual factory shutdown-cum-leave time, daughter and son-in-law vacation time with us, other son successfully completed university admission procedures, hubby retired from work and I had my heart and hands full with all of these as a bouquet of satisfaction!
An unprecedented time of total tuning down caused me to truly understand how totally refreshing rest is!
Pulling back to rest, stepping away from schedule, relaxing from intensive work, moving away to new location, spending quality time together, intentional laying aside of activity and cessation from busyness are sure keys to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual renewal. Such overhauling of all systems is mandatory necessity for holistic life and living today. It is not an optional luxury in these stressful times that we live in, but a real-time urgent necessity and need. It is more commonsensical and wise to spend for and on a timeout, rather than on costly medical procedures and treatment. Prevention is surely always better than cure, and besides, this one has literally no side effects to it!
Ironically, many form and organize even a vacation into a pressurised block of time, packing it chock-full of various events and activities. It is distressing to see such folks return from a holiday more tense than ever before. Imagine making even a vacation into a strenous workout!
Most often than not, what is needed is just simple rest and good nutritional intake rather than a costly outing that strains the budget, adding to the load. Nothing is so good as a long, alarm-free sleep, bolstered with and by a lack of deadlines. Just letting go of an agenda will work wonders for many a one who is simply used to running a constant mechanical life. Even the pendulum of a clock is brought to rest to release tension and restore equilibrium. A combination of good food, good sleep and good solitude is often a surefire and simple remedy for stress!
Coming apart to a desert or desolate place truly helps in realigning priorities, weighing pros and cons of activity, weeding out the irrelevant and focusing on only needed realities. Without an intentional time of solitude and reflection, we would end up expending our energy, scattering our attention and generally getting distracted from realisitic ground necessities. That’s why attending a funeral often helps in coming to terms with real life, for it pulls us up and out of a benumbed stupor of activity and frenzied running after many things. It is pressing the pause button on our mad routine to assess the fragility and frailty of human existence. It helps take stock of and accept our humanness.
A sabbath rest and sabbatical time is the need of the hour for sustainable living and conservation of strength. Without renewal and rest we would soon, without effort, unconsciously slide into robotic existential lifestyle. We would probably soon reach an early grave.
Let’s wake up to the need for some, plain, good, old-fashioned rest. Let’s come apart before we become jaded and come apart!
*This week’s pic reminded me of the Apostle James’ warning about the tongue in the Bible. I was also reminded of the promise given through the Prophets Isaiah and Joel of the new tongue and language that will transform. Combined it all in this poem!
People are often in a tizzy,
If they don’t keep themselves quite busy!
They often don’t know what it’s to rest sweetly,
For they think it’s wrong to just take it easy!
Running around madly trying to do something,
May not just be the answer needed for everything.
Resting brings dividends that are often unexpected,
Yet it’s the one thing that’s quite frankly neglected!
Rocking chairs can be in constant motion,
Yet they don’t get anywhere for all their locomotion!
Its not necessary to make such a noisy commotion,
In order to get that great and wonderful promotion!
God in wisdom did ordain cessation of movement,
Alternating work with relaxation at the right moment.
We in our foolish frenzy for consumption,
Often pursue goals in frantic assumption!
So take some time to sit in peaceful quietness,
Its actually a hallmark of godly piousness!
Take some time to spend in restoring idleness,
Its a great need for continued righteousness!