Rest and relaxation: a phenomenon that is overcoveted and underrated, all at the same time. I’m enjoying a little of it right now. (Yes, even writing blog posts can be relaxing.)
Many of us don’t take enough time to rest, and don’t take as much formal vacation time as we should. Many North Americans take less vacation time than they are allotted by their work each year. Where I work, they so discourage us from carrying over holiday time from year to year that it is required to get permission from one’s supervisor in order for it to happen. They want us to take all the vacation time we’ve got coming year by year. I think this is a good thing.
R&R was God’s idea in the first place. The Bible tells us, in the Genesis 1 creation story, that after six days of busy creating, God took a day off. In fact, God instituted that the day be ‘sanctified’ – made holy – so that people would take seriously the need for a day of rest and worship.
Lots of people neglect the worship; the church is working on that one! But sadly, many people also neglect the rest as well – and, perhaps ironically, one of the most guilty groups of people for neglecting God’s gift of rest is clergy.
Yep, my kind. The ones who put in much of their time teaching the Bible neglect the gift of rest in which the Bible enjoins us to engage.
Particularly in the church, we often equate ‘busy’ with ‘faithful’. This is especially true of pastors, who (depending on their polity) often have a congregation full of bosses measuring their productivity. It’s wise to look busy.
Yet congregations sometimes have odd definitions of productivity. My father-in-law, when he was in full-time ministry, would receive phone calls from church members in his study at the manse. When my mother-in-law would answer the calls, saying that her husband was out in the garden and that she’d go and get him, the callers would insist that he be left alone; yet if she said that he was in the study, reading, the callers would ask to disturb him!
I wouldn’t want to say that there isn’t spiritual value in gardening; many gardeners tell me there is. But it’s actually a major part of the ‘real work’ of the pastor to read and study!
Sorry, I got carried away.
Rest and relaxation is a blessing from God, because it is what enables us to recharge for more of the work that God calls us to do. That takes many forms. For me, the highlight of my summer is a weekend at a cottage on an island in Georgian Bay. (The photo is the view from just below the deck of that cottage.) The three or four days we spend there, with good friends, recharge my physical batteries in amazing ways.
This week, we went camping at a Bible conference camp. It was a bit more work to be ‘off’, because we were surrounded by that with which we always work. But we made out well.
Next week, we’ll spend a couple of days at the cottage of other good friends before heading back to work – recharged.
God, thank you for the gift of rest!