“You’ll have time to rest when you’re dead.”
–Robert De Niro, American actor
We, humans, sometimes get things backgrounds. In fact, I sometimes wear my shirt backwards. But that’s beside the point. One of the things we often get backwards is the purpose of rest. Oftentimes, we seek rest because we’ve burnt out—physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. We’ve ended up in a position of becoming tired, overworked, and stressed. And so we finally launch into a much needed break for our lives. But until we actually need proper rest, we charge on in the hopes of accomplishing more and achieving more. Rest becomes a footnote at the end of a long and tiring day. In other words, we rest from a point of work. We work as much as we can and we rest whenever we can afterwards.
The Bible seems to suggest a different approach to rest. The Bible seems to indicate that rest is more like an introduction to a wonderful day than as a footnote to the end of a long and tiring one. In Genesis 1, we find that God created man and woman on the sixth day, which was the final day of His work on creation. The next day was the 7th day—the day of rest that God Himself had instituted. So it would appear that the first order of business for Adam and Even after being created wasn’t to work at all. It was to rest. They spent their very first day as human beings resting. And from that position of restfulness, they could then work well in the Garden of Eden. In other words, they worked from a point of rest.
In our pursuit to accomplish more in life, we often forego rest as we charge on day after day with our work. And at some point in time, we end up physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. That’s when we often decide it’s time for us to take a break. I don’t think that’s how God designed us to be in the first place. Instead of resting from a point of over-worked-ness, I think we’re designed to work from a point of well-rested-ness. As we get the proper rest for our bodies—physically, mentally, and emotionally—that’s when we’re really able to tackle on the challenges of the day in a productive and fruitful manner. So the challenge for us is to be working from a point of rest and not the other way around.