The month of August is traditionally a time of going on holiday – although I do realise that it is also a time of school holidays so it is often seen as the time NOT to go away! However, this year Phil and I will be taking my annual leave during the first two weeks of August. We shall first visit the family in Bristol and then spend the rest of the time in our flat in Dunfermline doing, I suspect (and hope) very little!
Holidays and the summer months are a time of rest and refreshment. And, as I prepare to go away, it makes me reflect once again on how we use our time and negotiate the balance between being ‘busy’ and ‘not busy’ or for some ‘work’ and ‘not work’.
I read somewhere that the Bible indicates that we are ‘to work from rest, not rest from work.’ And that is quite a mindset change for me. Maybe it is for you too. The first day of the week, Sunday, was, in former times, a day of rest … and so our faith indicates that we should begin our week by resting … and it is only from this place of rest that we should move into busy or work mode.
This then begs the question as to what is ‘rest’? So many think of it as having naps, sitting on the couch doing nothing, or getting a blissful uninterrupted night’s sleep. But actually rest encompasses so much more. Rest means restoration … a building up once again of our bodies, minds and souls. It means doing things that fill us up again and restore our energy. And I hope prayer and being aware of God’s presence can be included in this definition.
Jesus himself provides for us a role model to follow. Although we tend to think of him as being a terribly ‘busy’ person as we recall his miracles, teaching and healing, Jesus was actually first and foremost a man of prayer … at one with God the Father … a person who prioritised his prayer life and rest as he realised that without this basis he could not minister effectively and properly. Both Mark and Luke tell us about Jesus withdrawing to a quiet place to pray even though he knew the crowds were looking for him. In John’s Gospel we have many instances where Jesus describes the close relationship with his Father. With Jesus’ reference to the vine and its branches, he suggests that it is only if we abide/rest in Jesus that we become fruitful.
So whether we are retired or still in our working life, the same balance is desired: that of between resting and doing … abiding in Jesus and doing … praying and doing – and I deliberately write the components of those phrases in that order. Activity can only come from a place of rest.
Perhaps this summer we might reflect on the balance of our rest and busy-ness and address any wobbliness and imbalance we find in our reflections. And then we can more deeply enjoy this beautiful season and the blessings we receive through it.
with love, Liz