Last week Alison and I went away for a 5 day anniversary trip. We stayed in a cabin in North Carolina that had a creek, or crick if you are actually from North Carolina, that was right across the gravel road from the cabin. We got there and opened one of the doors and immediately could hear the peaceful sound of the creek flowing in the background. It was incredibly restful!
How do you rest? Or do you actually rest?
In our culture we don't rest well. It is difficult to determine all of the reasons why we don't "rest well" in our culture. It may be engrained into the fabric of American culture. We seem to have assumptions about rest. Many assume rest is for the lazy. I can remember growing up hearing Bible verses about working hard. Verses like 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which was always quoted to me this way, "If a man doesn't work don't let him eat." This verse was written to combat lazy attitudes. Certainly being lazy is not pleasing to God. Yet, even from the very beginning after 6 days of creation God rested. God even established a mandatory sabbath day so that Israel would rest.
However, today it is commonplace to hurriedly walk down the corridors of our workplace and get asked "how is it going?" We say, "busy." Why do we say this? Sometimes it is because it is true, at other times it is because busyness is valued. We see an acquaintance we haven't seen in a while, and they might greet with a question like "you staying busy?" We feel obliged to say yes. Many of us wouldn't imagine saying "no" to that question because somehow we think that being busy, working hard, being productive is tied to our worth as a human.
There is a new study from researchers at Harvard that proves that Americans increasingly perceive busy and overworked people as having high status. In one experiment, a hundred participants were asked to read a fictional letter from a "friend" named Daniel. In one version, he complained about being "crazy busy" and never having time to watch TV. In another, he talked about being relaxed and often watching sports on TV. On a scale of one to seven, participants ranked busy Daniel more than twice as high on a measure of wealth and social status as they ranked leisurely Daniel. The researchers concluded that our new "conspicuous consumption" is no longer about scarce things like jewelry or money or cars. Instead, it's about saying, "'I am the scarce resource, and therefore I am valuable'… Displaying one's busyness at work and lack of leisure time operates as a visible signal of status in the eyes of others."
Our value shouldn't be determined by how much demand we create, or how much time we do or do not have. Our value shouldn't be affected by how productive we are. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Luckily for us our beholder is God. God is willing to give everything for us. It is time for us to stop chasing value, and realize we already have it. It is crucial that we are productive for God, but perhaps more so that we find rest in him.
Matthew 11:28 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." God set our value at priceless, and offers rest from the rat-race of trying to build up our worth to those around us. Let's find rest in him, and watch amazing things happen in our relationship with Him.