The unrest of rest
You remember the question. It’s likely you’ve even asked this very same question to a tike when the little one was the age you once were: What do you want to be when you grow up?
The top five answers in my day may have been the same top five answers in your day—firefighter, astronaut, cowboy or cowgirl, teacher, and hippotherapist. Okay, I am kidding on the last one, but fyi, hippotherapy is surprisingly not therapy for hippos. Hippotherapy is for individuals who benefit from therapy on horses.
But I digress.
The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” turns into “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
Rather than answering I want to be happy, balanced, or fulfilled, we answer “horticulturalist,” “Wallstreet tycoon,” or “ice cream maker.” This leads me to the point that we Americans define success by what we do rather than what we are. You know what I mean if you admit that society, family, and even our friends think it is cool to have a full schedule and uncool to loaf around all day.
But the Judeo-Christian practice throws overachievers a curveball. We are called to rest. Recall these words from Deuteronomy 5:12-15. “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day (NIV).”
About this slavery thing. The Israelites were no longer Egyptian slaves. Locked into a system that dictated their worth solely by what they produce was yesterday’s news. Though slavery was embedded in their psyche as they’ve lived this way for some 300 years, they were now free. These former slaves needed to learn how to be free people living alongside other free people. Pharaoh wasn’t their master anymore. God is.
If you follow Christ and have died to self and sin to live in Him, you know that the Son of God is your master, too. You are not a slave to the Pharaohs of this world. You’re free. In this freedom, or perhaps I should say with this freedom, you are called to rest.
It may be wise to realize there is unrest with the concept of rest. It’s uncomfortable. Weird. We are trained to measure the worth of a day by what we accomplish; what do we do with a day in which the goal is not to accomplish anything? Yikes.
Weird as this may sound, expect some restlessness when you try to rest. Memories you’ve stuffed down can well up. Emotions from the back shelf may come forward, but only at first.
If you hang on, this new pace—this non-pace—will align you with God who has key messages for you, messages like, “I love you.” “I’ve got this.” “Don’t beat yourself up.” “Spend time where it counts, not where it doesn’t.” And this may be my favorite. “Consider being a hippo therapist.”