Saturday, July 9, 2011

Work & Rest

Tomorrow, I will be leaving for a vacation. As I have been looking forward to it this week, it got me thinking about the purpose of work and rest. From the very beginning of creation, God modeled what it means to work. For six days, He created the world and everything in it. But God did more than model work. He assigned it as well. On that last day of creation, God placed Adam in the garden and gave him a job to do. God told Adam to be the cultivator and keeper of the garden (Gen. 2:15). So, work is something that has been mandated by God for us to do.

And when we do it, we can serve God by using the skills and gifts that He has given us. For the carpenter, they can glorify God by building houses and buildings. For the farmer, they can glorify God by using their skills of cultivating the land. And for the pastor, they can glorify God by teaching and shepherding people.

Yet we also know that work became much harder because of the fall of mankind. In Genesis 3:17-19, we are told that Adam's work would become much more difficult. "By the sweat of your face you will eat bread." Work now is more difficult, that is why we never see a bumper sticker that says, "I would rather be working." Work is seen as a headache, a horrible thing that keeps us form the things that we really want to do. At least for most people.

Have you ever thought about how much easier farming would be if there were no weeds? Or how much easier building a house would be if there were no crooked boards? Or how much easier pastoral ministry would be if there were no sinners (I think of that one often). We are called to work and we know that it will be difficult.

But here's the other side of the work issue. It is the concept of rest! God modeled work, but He also modeled rest. On the seventh day, God rested. But then He mandated that His people rest as well. He commanded a Sabbath day. It is a day set aside for God, to worship Him. But it is also a day set aside for recovery. Our bodies and our spirit need time set aside each week to rest and refresh.

Let me just open and vulnerable. I am not very good at this. If there is anything I tend toward, it is working too much. There have been relatively few days since I have arrived in Ohio in February in which I have done no work. It consumes me. We all know that pastoral ministry is not a physical occupation. It consumes me because it consumes my mind. I often get to the place where I don't have time to think and clear my mind. It is something that I know I need to do better, but often don't know how.

Even beyond the weekly day off, it is good from time to time to get away for an extended period of time. That is what I am doing, starting tomorrow afternoon. I am going on vacation. For those interested, I thought I would end with a list of ways you could pray for me while I am on vacation. It seems strange asking for someone to pray for a vacation, but I would greatly appreciate if you would think of us over the next couple of weeks.

  • Pray that I would enjoy time with my family.
  • Pray that I would relax physically and mentally.
  • Pray that I would have some time of refreshment spiritually as I read God's Word and a few other books.
  • Pray that we would have safe travels back to Kansas and then to Chicago to see some family.
  • Pray that we would be able to speak into the lives of friends and listen as they speak into our life.
  • Pray that we would return energized for what the Lord has in store for CBC over the next several months.

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