Dear Christ Church,
As we approach Labor Day weekend, I’m reminded of several things:
God created us for good works (Eph. 2:8-10)
We’re encouraged in Scripture to enjoy the fruit of our labor (Ecc 5:18-20)
The fallenness of the world also makes for much toil in our work (Gen 3:17-19)
Jesus carries this burden, as can our church community (Gal 6:2; Matt 11:28-30)
We need Sabbath rest! (Exod 20:8-11)
Studies continue to show that stress levels in our society are very high, and poor mental health in general persists. Related to work, specifically:
63% of US workers are ready to quit their job to avoid work-related stress
94% of workers reporting feeling stress in their jobs
Stagnant wages and anxiety related to economic uncertainty have become the norm
Rest alone is not a cure for these problems, but Sabbath rest is much more than merely taking a day off. In her work, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Calhoun describes Sabbath as:
…God’s gift of repetitive and regular rest. It is given for our delight and communion with God. Time for being in the midst of a life of doing particularly characterizes the Sabbath. Ultimately, the temptation is to put work ahead of one’s relationship with God and to alter the rhythm of life and pace at which God designed us to live.
Sabbath rest enables us not only to cease work and recover our physical strength but to renew a foundational sense of dependency on the Lord for our provision as well. The practice of designating time that isn’t measured by productivity also serves to expose our idols and addictions to financial security, social status, or even just the distraction of busyness.
This discipline is difficult, though, and we can’t do it alone. I need to hear this as much as anyone. As I continue to transition into a new ministry role myself, the pressures and tasks that creep in can seem almost endless. Even a strong sense of calling itself can blind me to the ways that I resist God’s insistence on rest in my life.
This Labor Day, and in the hurried season ahead, would you recommit with me to regular rest and ceasing? Ask me how I’m doing with this, and I’ll do the same! In doing so, may we find the peace of Christ together that comes when we cast our cares, fears, and to-do-lists on him.