Let’s imagine for a moment that you go to your bank, give them your account number and ask for 500 Euros. Let’s also imagine that you have never been to Europe and you have done no research whatsoever on what a euro looks like. You are flying blind, trusting the bank to give you the correct amount and the correct currency. The cheerful teller hands you a stack of wrinkled, written on, used post-it notes. The topmost of these has the word ‘euro’ scribbled on it. The teller says, ‘Here you go, that’s 500 euros. Have a great day!’ How would you respond?
The U S Department of Labor has written in reference to Labor Day, “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, the American worker.”
Ouch! That bothers me. Yes, workers, as opposed to slouchers, have helped build a great nation, but let’s rather pay tribute to God, the Creator of all things, the One to whom all tribute is due. After all, God even invented work. In Genesis 1 and 2 the Bible tells of God’s work of creation, that it was good, and that God rested when He was done. God told His people that they, likewise, should rest from their work, one day out of every seven (Exodus 20:8ff).
Initially, not much changed. I was able to keep up with my usual routine and commitments but that could only last so long. Like most transitions, this required some adjustment. I kept up with my Bible studies but my quiet time in the morning took the hit. Typically I am an early riser, you know like 4:30 or 5 am. I like a quiet, slow ease into the day. This was the time when I would read my bible, pray, reflect and listen. This new season in my life required me to get up and ready for work early, not leaving a whole lot of time for my usual routine. It was a subtle shift initially, starting with missing one or two days a week of quiet time with God, to going whole weeks without ever taking the time in the morning to be with Him.
Our life has been a whirlwind of excitement lately. As I write this, I am currently 20 weeks pregnant with identical twin boys. (!!) There are certain challenges and blessings that come along with this news, but that’s not what I’m going to delve into today. Instead, God has been challenging me in the past few weeks with the concept of rest. I figured as an exhausted 28-year-old balancing a full time job, marriage, a social life, regular exercise, and now growing two tiny humans—this is particularly appropriate.
“Jane” examined me closely and then asked, “What if they only came to rob you and not because of your preaching … does it still count?” Whaaaat? It’s amazing what comes out of people when someone is suffering!
Jane said this to me at our kids’ school in the Central Asian city where we were serving with different Christian agencies. I was still suffering from the injuries I had sustained when we were attacked in our home a year earlier. She was trying to do the reward calculus on my suffering. Was I suffering for Jesus? Or was I just suffering? In her mind, there was a big difference and it seemed important to her to nail down which was which. Kind of appalling, right?
This was not what I had signed up for. I had moved to Central Asia to change the world, not to clean and cook and wash dishes! If I had to be in this hard place I wanted to make a difference, do something significant for a change. I secretly wished I could lead somebody else’s life!