Two weeks ago my wife and I returned from our 10-year anniversary cruise. It was relaxing, rejuvenating and much-needed. We were blessed by my bride’s parents watching our kids for 9 days – yes, read that again, 9 days; they served us in an amazing way in those 9 days by taking care of our precious kids and allowing us to get away. Upon our arrival back home I spoke with several good friends and acknowledged/confessed that I need to do a much better of regularly taking time to rest. That may or may not seem like that big of a deal to you but for me its a big deal. Rest is one of those words that has for many years taken on a negative connotation of lazy people, individuals who do not work hard or even unspiritual people. And though that could be true (and many times is) rest can be, and is, a very good thing and needed thing. What follows is a brief summary of one chapter from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.
Dr. Swenson says that the most healthy lifestyle comes in four gears:
- The first gear is park for the contemplative times. This gear is used for rest and renewal, and to recharge our batteries (195). This gear is where we study the Bible or pray.
- The second gear is low, which is for relationships, family and friends (196). There’s no rush in this gear, just quality time with those around us.
- The third gear is drive, which is our typical gear for work and leisure. This gear uses a lot of energy and as we go faster we feel good because we are being productive (196).
- The fourth gear is overdrive, which is reserved for times that require extra effort (196).
One question before I move on: which gear comprises the majority of your life?
He later summarizes that in our everyday lives, most of us need rest in three areas:
- Physical rest, the least important of the three.
- Emotional rest, more important by several order of magnitude.
- Spiritual rest, which, though widely neglected, is of supreme importance.
In closing, I’ll share some comments Swenson makes regarding physical rest. His comments are, at the very least, an indictment on our culture. He says that “constant activity is a characteristic of our age. If we are not active, we feel slothful. If we are not productive, we feel guilty…such busyness does not come because our bodies can’t help themselves. We cannot blame our thyroid or adrenal glands. Nor does it result from a theological teaching. It comes from a cultural value system that idolizes productivity. i am not saying that productivity is wrong. I am only saying it must not be idolized” (196-197). Further, “God has instructed us that life is more than work. It includes relationships, worship, and yes, even rest” (197). One individual said that a “rest-less work style produces a rest-less person” and “we do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it” (197).
Upon rereading this and coming back from vacation, I need to do much better in this area.