The Struggle to Rest
By: Jennifer Waddle
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. - Genesis 2:1-3
I was raised by hard-working parents who set a good example of what it meant to have a strong work ethic. Even today, as they enter retirement, both of them can work circles around me. Unfortunately, I didn’t automatically acquire my parent’s diligence.
I still remember the summer when I was fourteen and decided that sleeping until noon and watching soap operas all day was the best plan ever. Until…my dad had enough of my laziness and set an alarm for nine a.m. Not only did he set an alarm, he gave my brother and I a list of chores to complete before he got home. He even got creative, as one day, he had us move a stack of lumber from one end of the yard to the other. Then, the next day, he had us move it back!
A strong work ethic is something to be valued, and is mentioned many times throughout the Scriptures. But what about rest?
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”
Nowadays, it isn’t so much that people struggle to work hard, it’s that they struggle to set their work aside. Think about how many times we bring our work home with us, spend weekends on projects, and even lose sleep over our jobs. There is a definite struggle to stop working and enter into a time of much-needed rest.
Interestingly, it’s been proven in certain cultures that nap time, even during the workday, is highly productive, not only with job performance, but for peoples’ sense of wellbeing. God created us to work hard, but He also intended for us to take a break when needed and to devote one day of the week to rest. It’s not complicated. But for so many of us, we simply don’t know what it means to switch gears and take a full day off.
If you struggle in this area, here are several small steps you can take to make rest a priority in your life:
- Schedule your day of rest and post it for the whole family to see.
- Plan how you will spend the day so you won’t fall back into your work routine.
- Make preparations for meals so that no one has to cook.
- Do something special, such as taking a leisurely walk or having a time of worship as a family.
- Devote an afternoon of quiet reading and napping.
- Try out a new hobby such as painting or learning an instrument.
- Write letters to loved ones—physical letters with pen and paper.
- Start a new Bible study or devotion.
- Spend time in your prayer closet, interceding for others and listening for God’s direction.
Learning to rest isn’t rocket science. It’s simply a matter of making it a priority and determining to follow God’s example. We can still maintain a strong work ethic, and set the alarm for our kids who want to sleep all day, while also being an example of what it means to enjoy God-given rest.
Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.
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