Recently I moved to Canada from England to follow God’s call to serve CABC as a new Associate Executive Minister. The transition period reminded me of a period in my life from fifteen years ago when I moved to London to take up an exciting career in Television.
One of the first pieces of advice I was given by a local was ‘If you’re going to live in London remember three golden rules, 1) Work hard, 2) Play hard, 3) Rest hard’. And it was good advice that I have taken with me ever since. I think for many of us it is easy to live by rules one and two, however, there seems to be a tendency to neglect the third golden rule: Rest Hard. How many of us manage to rest well?
According to a Time Magazine article America has a sleep deficit that is worse than the national budget deficit, resulting in all sorts of problems from increased irritability to an increase in car accidents. The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of rest ‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work’ and perhaps, more surprisingly, the importance of sleep ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety’.
The Scottish Theologian John Baillie coined a phrase ‘the theology of sleep’ which sums up the importance God puts on us resting well. Popular author John Ortberg states ‘Before Elijah was to spend a prolonged time in solitude and prayer at Mount Horeb, the angel of the Lord had him take not one, but two long naps. Contrast this with the disciples at Gethsemane, who could not pray because they kept falling asleep.’
For some of us resting well is simply doing something we enjoy that is not work related. When was the last time you took a holiday? When was the last time you went a day without checking your emails or Facebook? When was the last time you switched your mobile phone off or didn’t check Twitter? If you are struggling to remember the last time you did any of these things then maybe it is time for you to consider how you can best ‘Rest Hard’.
Perhaps we need to rephrase a slogan from a well-known chocolate producer who sold ‘Mars’ bars by stating that ‘a Mars a day helps you work rest and play’. Perhaps the message of God for you today is this: ‘God each day wants you to work, rest and play’.