The weather has warmed up in recent weeks and Summer activities are fast filling up my calendar. I find it hard to contain the excitement of gardening and bike rides through warm clear skies. This time a year naturally brings forth thoughts on the worth of rest and recreation in life. Do we get enough rest? Are we enjoying enough time savoring the beautiful creation God has provided for us? With a little bit of simple math I am discovering that the answer is “no”.
There are simply not enough vacation days in the average American job to permit a pursuit of rest that is healing and nurturing. In the fallen state of the world we live in, our bodies are finite and require rest in order to achieve an equilibrium of healthfulness. Corporate America is driven by desires for functionality and productivity. Our idea of what makes for a good economy and financial success as individuals is that you should fool yourself into a belief in your own invincibility.
Pursuing wealth for the sake of wealth is to live for the false idol of mammon. Too often we associate our careers and profit margins as what makes us valuable in life. As a new creation in Christ, I believe it is essential that you are able to humbly admit your need for more rest and recreation. To do so is to acknowledge that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We find our ultimate value in God’s provision for us, not in what we accomplish ourselves.
I believe the church has a golden opportunity to minister to the needs of our society by standing up for our need for rest and ample vacation time. It is a sad irony that America which is far more identifiable as Christian than Europe has significantly less vacation time than what Europeans enjoy. There is evidently a disconnect between faith values in the lives of Americans and practices of self care as a society. I believe churches should speak the truth in the gospel that we are more than a gross national product statistic. Our lives transcend our contributions in the workplace. As Christians we should lead the charge for taking care of ourselves by working towards an equilibrium in society of less work and more rest.
In the Spring 2015 issue of Concordia Journal William W. Schumacher’s article entitled “Faithful Witness in Work and Rest” addresses many of these thoughts I have been pondering in recent months. Specifically Schumacher identifies the trend in our culture toward a leisure industry. Basically Leisure as distinct from rest involves spending money and being entertained. Leisure is big business, an important part to a healthy economy- but not necessarily an important part of your healthy life.
The article identifies the importance of play as an intermediary between work and rest that is distinctively different than leisure. There is a lot to say about the lack of a good balance between work, play and rest. But that is a topic for another time.