Growing up, one of the mantras of my family was, "work hard, play hard." I can still hear my "Pa" (my grandfather) say this to me time and time again. Anytime I didn't want to press on in work and desired an escape to a seaside retreat, he would chime in "son, if you want to play hard you have to work even harder." He was right in so many ways.
Although this mantra carries with it a sentiment of inspiration, I have come to believe it does little to spurn us to rest. Trust me, we played hard in my family and it always followed hard work. Yet, as I reflect back, It is clear we didn't really know how to rest well.
As my life began to shift gears towards leading within the Body of Christ, I found myself holding onto some of the monikers of my past. Let's be real, the church, in so many ways, does the very same thing. When is the last time you heard a group of people being known for how well they rested?
The church seeks to be known for what "good" they do, and how much of that "good" they have done. And let me be clear, I love seeing the church be effective so don't paint me with the "anti" or "lazy" brush. In a context like ours, one obsessed with doing more, would a pursuit of doing more"church stuff" really run across the grain of our culture?
Last year I listened as a new term arose within the talking heads of the NBA. Seasoned players (older ones who don't want to be called old) were beginning to use a term. The term was, "Load Management." Those who had been in the League for years were beginning to increase their time off the court for full maximization on the court. In other words, they were resting well to amplify their playing well so their career could experience longevity.
As this philosophy began to be embraced by more and more players I began to see a trend. Criticism. All the analysts simply hated the idea. Fans pay to see these players on the court, not resting on the sidelines. Good players on the court means good ticket sales. Good ticket sales means more money for the franchise. And more money for the franchise means owners experience maximum level profits. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand this equation.
Rest, in a world of more, will always seem costly and counterintuitive.
Rabbi Herschel, in his book, "Sabbath" helps us to understand the fullness of what the sabbath does.
"Every seventh day a miracle comes to pass, the resurrection of the soul, of the soul of man and of the soul of all things. A medieval sage declares: The world which was created in six days was a world without a soul. It was on the seventh day that the world was given a soul. This is why it is said: “and on the seventh day He rested vayinnafash” (Exodus 31: 17); nefesh means a soul. "
Our life in eternal perspective means more than "more." Herschel helps us to see that sabbath rest is partaking in the resurrection of the soul. It is to enjoy and engage in the eternity that is to come. As we look to Jesus, we see Him bringing new life, resurrecting life into our bodies now, in the present.
As in the NBA, we need to pursue longevity. We need load management. Not a time to be lazy, but a time to see our lives restored and our souls given eternal perspective and eternal work.
Rest is not about accomplishing more as much as it is being repositioned with Jesus' ultimate accomplishment. A resurrected alignment with a coming reality. Eternity with no toil, no sweat and fullness of life.
Sitting on the back porch with family is what rest can look like. Some may say there is more to accomplish, or "shouldn't you take the kids to see more?" Yet the value of our soul is not in the pursuit of more, it is in the rest of God's sacred meeting in time. Our refusal to Sabbath, to cease, is a refusal to meet Him on the mount and commune with His life giving presence.
My newly adapted mantra is slowly becoming, "work hard, rest well." What if the church modeled this for the world? In a world that cries more, Jesus' resurrection power brings rest for the weary, loads lifted and our value being aligned with His eternal kingdom value.
How well do you rest?