Some years back, I was snapping at my wife and children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our house reflected the pattern of my hurry-up style.
After supper one evening, the words of one of our daughters gave me a wake-up call. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, “Daddy-I-wanna-tell-yousomethin’-and-I’ll-tell-you-really-fast.”
Realizing her frustration, I answered, “Honey, you can tell me . . . and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.”
I’ll never forget her answer: “Then listen slowly.”
I had taken no time for leisure. Not even at meals with my family. Everything was fast-moving and uptight.
We’ve been programmed to think that fatigue is next to godliness, haven’t we? That the more exhausted we are (and look!), the more spiritual we are. We applaud those with insane schedules for their many accomplishments.
Yet when I look at the life of Christ, I find no evidence that he embraced such a theory. In fact, I find the opposite. On several occasions, although surrounded by needs, we see Jesus deliberately taking a break. He got away from the demands of the public and relaxed with his disciples. His was a life of accomplishing everything the Father sent him to do, but he did so without neglecting times of rest. And if that is the way he lived, it makes good sense for you and me to live that way too.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he told his readers to be “imitators of God” (5:1). Our task is to mimic him. And if we take a look at Genesis, we find God resting at least one-seventh of the time. He did not do so because he was exhausted after creating the world. Omnipotence never grows tired! He hadn’t run out of ideas. He easily could have made more worlds, created infinite numbers of life forms, and multiplied the galaxies.
But he didn’t. He deliberately stopped.
He spent an entire day resting. In fact, he blessed that seventh day, setting it apart as special—something he did not do with any other day. By doing so, he made rest a priority.
We need his help to live that way, don’t we? He underscored that priority when he led the psalmist to write, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
Lord God, we find ourselves running in a tight radius, like a rat in a sewer pipe. Our world has become too small, too routine, too grim. Remind us that we are not rats, we are sheep. You have made us whole people who are free to think and relax in leisure, not slaves chained to a schedule. Enable us to break loose! Show us how to “listen slowly.” Give us the courage to start today and the hope we need to stay fresh tomorrow.
May we become like your Son, committed to the highest standard of excellence, both at work and rest, devoted to your will, easy to live with, at peace within.
In his strong name we pray.