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June 12, 2007 / David Lindner

The Value of Rest

In today’s society we are pushed to the extremes of doing something all the time, and not ever taking a break from the business that employs us day in and day out. Our culture doesn’t see the value in rest anymore. Statistically, American workers have fewer vacation days than any other country. We also have the highest rate of depression and other mental disorders. Do you think this is a direct correlation? I do. I know in my life, when I’m over-working myself, it doesn’t take very long to be robbed of joy. God designed days of rest for a reason, they are not a luxury, they are a must.

One man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had.
“I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did.”
“But you didn’t notice,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.”

Rest isn’t just for doing nothing, rest is for sharpening. Just like an axe, we will get dull if used continuously without a break to stop and sharpen. I don’t know how may of you have tried to do much chopping with a dull axe, but it certainly takes the fun out of cutting wood.

There’s no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by ‘rests,’ and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune…not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the ‘rests.’ They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we sadly say to ourselves, ‘There is no music in a rest,’ let us not forget that there is the making of music in it.

“Carry some quiet around inside thee,” the well-known Quaker, George Fox, used to say. “Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit, from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord from whence cometh life; whereby thou mayest receive the strength and power to allay all storms and tempests.”

This weekend, I will be doing this. Bekki & I are taking a break, and we are going to rest. We will be putting aside the worries of life at home, the worries of work and just enjoying time with each other and time with God. Some of us may not know how dull we are, we may be looking at others who seem to be “chopping more wood” with quite a bit less effort, and wonder why we are not able to achieve the same. But, until we have worked with a sharp axe, until we have taken time to sharpen ourselves, we will never know the benefit of doing so. We are getting away, and hopefully we will be able to store up enough of this quietness to last a while, and our weekly times of rest will just be rejuvenations of this time.

Let’s take time to put the hustle of life aside, this hustle that stresses us out and robs us of our joy, turn our minds from our own thoughts and turn our thoughts to God, “From whence cometh life.” I think we will soon learn that the value of rest is irreplaceable.

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