Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Rest: we all need it
This past weekend was awesome! I needed a break. I really did. Friday night I spent at camp hanging out. I spent a little time with the camp director talking about summer things and then just bummed around camp. On Saturday my family was having a memorial service for my step mom, Nancy. It was really good to be around so many others who knew her and share memories. But Saturday night was the real rest! A solo camping trip at the upper end of the camp airstrip (don't worry, planes haven't used the airstrip in years). It started off with getting my 4WD car stuck in a mud pit. You can see the pictures of this on facebook! I tried pushing myself out, but have you ever tried putting an SUV in neutral and pushing it out of about 4-6 inches of mud? Yeah, I don't recommend it! It didn't budge. So, away I went to find my friend Jay on camp with the tractor. We finally pulled my car out on the tractor and I was finally ready! Jay kindly drove me to the campsite on the tractor as I left my car in the parking lot. He left and there I was. Finally alone. Finally some quiet. I had already on Friday turned my phone off and in fact left it in my car. The only noises around were the sound of nature. The horses in the field next to me, some birds and other creatures in the woods. There was the occasional sound of a car on a distant road that the sound traveled and I could hear. And there was of course, my laptop for a little while as I played music setting up camp. I got my tent up, started a fire and just relaxed. If you have ever read the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis - that was me. But above all, I was at peace. I turned my laptop off after camp was set up and packed it away in my bag. I left my watch in the car. I finally decided to just go to bed when I felt like it and wake up when I felt like it. Eventually I grew sleepy and put the last of my wood on the fire for some extra warmth and went to bed. I woke up Sunday morning - freezing cold! The fire burned out over night. But I woke up refreshed and ready to take on the new day. I felt great!
So why as Americans do we have such a difficult time with this? Do you remember when the average work week was 40 hours? I've read that it's now closer to 50+ hours! I've heard a study that the average American father spends a mere 37 seconds a day with their child. Yes, I said SECONDS! 37 of them! All for what? Because we are chasing after the next big promotion so we can work even longer hours? Are we chasing the next coolest gadget that will allow us to work even more? Maybe it's the next biggest house so we can spend more time cleaning it later? I'm not saying these things are necessarily bad. I'm just wondering when does it end? When is enough ever enough for us? Why do we sacrifice so much just to gain material things? Why is the concept of resting so foreign to so many of us.
Last year I took my first real vacation in years. I flew out to Redding, CA to visit one of my closest friends Liz for a week. As I was leaving work before the trip I was asked if I was taking my laptop with me so I could work while I was there. Honestly, I felt slightly offended by this. Why should I be expected to work during my vacation? Isn't that the point of vacation? To not have to work. To take a break? My response was pretty simple: no. That trip I took only a carry on bag; no checked luggage. So there was no room for a laptop. But even if there was, I had no intention of working while there. It was time to spend with my friend, not work.
So what is it that we are hoping to gain by working so much? Since when did Saturday and Sunday become 2 more days of the work week? What ever happened to having the weekend to recharge a bit? I love how as you read through scripture it so often says that Jesus withdrew Himself to a quiet place. Or some variation of that. He slept during the storm that tossed the boat around! Seriously, if the Son of God needed to rest, who am I to say that I don't?! If the Son of God needed to get away from everything and everyone and quiet Himself before the Father, how much MORE do I need to do this? I'm, sometimes slowly, learning that I need my quiet time. I need to get away once in a while. This past weekend was a perfect example. I was so stressed out about finances for this next trip to Kenya that I couldn't take it anymore. But I rested. I took time out and rested. Sure, I could have spent that time on support raising. But I rested first. And amazing things came out of that rest! My mind was cleared and by Sunday afternoon as I did some more planning, I realized that what I was stressing about was so insignificant. Through a clear head, I was able to plan out finances and I realized that all of a sudden this trip was nearly 75% paid for already with support that was already offered in specific dollar amounts! I also started to see just how many others had already offered support without giving a dollar amount! But, that's all a different topic. This is REST!
So I ask, when is the last time that you rested? When is the last time that you sat by a lake and watched the ripples? When is the last time you sat in a field and gazed up at the stars? Stared off into a campfire? Slept in a little bit? Spent time doing something you enjoy? When is the last time that you put down work and walked away from it for a little while? Are you one of the average Americans who spends 37 seconds a day with your child? Or are you one who sees the importance of family time? How about at work...do you ever just take a couple of minutes and rest there? I used to love going for an afternoon walk before my friend Renae went on maternity leave. It started out where around 2PM we would do a lap around the office complex. In time, others started to join us. Sometimes we would just go and stand outside and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes. And here is the way I see it: If someone can take a smoke break and stand outside smoking for 5 minutes, then I can stand outside tanning for 5 minutes. At work, do you sit at your desk and eat while working or can you find 10-15 minutes to sit back and enjoy your lunch?
I guess it comes down to this: Are the fancy gadgets, bigger house, fast cars, etc worth what you're sacrificing? Are materials what's driving you? If you're really driven by materials and they are really all that matters, then go ahead. Work until you drop. But if you recognize the truth that there is more, then I implore you to rest. Enjoy the simple things. Take some time out of your busy schedule and get a cup of coffee with a friend. Take a walk. Get away from the work for a little.