Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rest Quite Beyond Leisure

“There can be little order in the private world of the human being when there is no appreciation for the meaning and pursuit of genuine rest, a cessation, as Wilberforce called it, in the routines of our times.”[1]

William Wilberforce was not only the master of the crushing of the slave trade in Britain in the early 19th Century, we was also said to be a master of Sabbath rest. He’d seen his share of fellow politicians burn out and even two had suicided due to work demands and stress—today’s age is not the only one where work/life balance has been a difficult one to achieve.

Why is it that we human beings struggle to rest? I know I’m often my own worst enemy at times, and I’m sure you’ll possibly relate—if not in yourself, you’ll see it in someone you know. There’s always more to do, more to get done. When I’m most tried for time, and I’m simply trying to keep up with the pace of life I look at those “coasting” and I do so resentfully—as if they’re choosing laziness whilst I slave in the hot kitchen of my busyness. What utter deluded rot!

Rest is a gift that can be taken at any time, yet in our age and through our stages of progress we point-blank refuse the opportunity to rest. We put it off. We look the rest gift-horse in the mouth and leave it for another time—a time that often does not come, or when it does we are so exhausted it isn’t rest anymore, it is recovery.

Rest—the true Sabbath rest—is a restorative and regenerative process. It is designed so that we might truly be prepared for the commencement and duration of the next onslaught. In this way, rest must come first. We rest before we need it.

Some are apt at thinking this rest they cannot afford. Well, a burned out shell of a human mind we can afford less, much less. Rest is mandatory. It is like sin. If we don’t heed its call sooner or later it’ll catch up with us. And when it does things are going to get ugly!

Rest is about peace, faith and courage. Rest brings much needed peace but it requires faith and courage to engage in it, and certainly also, self-discipline. Rest is a “now” activity. It’s the courage to say ‘no’ to people for the facilitative processes to work.

We must resolve in the moment of rest to do it and not delay it, and then also allow the full journey of rest to take place, without interruption or dilution.

© 2009 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World: Key Steps to Greater Resourcefulness, Effectiveness and Balance (Surrey, England: Highland Books, 1985, 2003), p. 217.

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