‘Tiredness can kill. Take a break.’
A sign for the drivers who should have stopped the last time they saw it. For the doctor with one patient too many. For the precision engineer whose work is not as precise. The shop assistant giving out the wrong change. The vicar who’s now driven instead of called.
I’ve seen far too many people put everything in to everything only to be left with nothing for anything. Working so hard to prove themselves to themselves, let alone others. ‘We have to start breaking busy before the busy breaks us,’ as Alli Worthington put it.
This blog is called Work. Rest. Pray. This seventh post is about the seventh day. The day God rested (Genesis 2:1-3). The principle that provides for our lives.
Of course, many people work at weekends. So it’s not as simple as it used to be to keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8-11). But creating ‘Sabbath moments’: setting aside times that are refreshingly restful and restorative, is possible.
There again, nobody ever teaches us how to rest, do they?
Resting is a skill. And like other tools in our toolbox, it takes practice.
I didn’t learn how to rest until I was over 30 – and even then it was because I’d become unwell. A 3 year-long period of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E.) meant pretty much constant tiredness and nothing for anything. It was a doctor who taught me how to rest and pace life. When it reoccurred some 15 years later, those lessons helped. In between and since, the same principles have undergirded my personal approach to work, rest and play. And I still don’t always get it right.
“It’s OK to be tired” has been our ‘family motto’ for years. Partly borne from that personal experience but also an acknowledgement that life is tiring and that it’s OK to feel tired.
All the same, being tired a lot of the time is frustrating. It messes with our thoughts as well as our body. Other people can also find it difficult when all we can say is “Sorry, I’m tired.”
Jesus got tired. When a storm blew up one evening on Lake Galilee, he was asleep in the boat. Tired from teaching and being followed by crowds of people (Mark 4:38). He also ensured his disciples took time out to rest (Mark 6:30-32).
Having a good rest involves recognising the signs that we’re tired, understanding what helps us to rest, and making the time to do so.
Resting is not necessarily about doing nothing. It can be: whether a daytime resting of our eyelids or imitating Winnie-the-Pooh: ‘Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits’ (both practised most days by this particular writer!).
There are also times when ‘a change is as good as rest’. Taking a break from normal, usual routines to do something refreshingly restful and restorative. It’s an approach which helps overcome the lethargy that accompanies tiredness too.
Take a break from thinking. You know, those times when we overthink a task or topic. Times when the trees get in the way of the seeing the wood. When we need to come up from being bogged down.
And, as one anonymous blogger put it, ‘Resting is an act (of) faith… Trust that (God) will continue to work and take care of things even as we are resting,’ Things will still be OK if we need to take a break for a while.
There are different ways of creating those Sabbath moments. Whether short or long, setting aside times that are refreshingly restful and restorative.
Don’t be left with nothing for anything.
Make time for a good rest. Whatever that means for you. However that works for you. Add more tools to your toolbox.
Here are some words of Solomon in Psalm 127:
‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain…
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.’
You are the Lord’s beloved. The Lord builds the house for you to work, to rest and to pray.