Today, I feature another guest blogger. He’s a super-smart guy and a crazy-awesome, longtime friend of mine, Mr. Scott Hall. Scott is a pastor in Lubbock, Texas and is recently engaged to be married (‘adda boy). I’ve known Scott a long, long time and let me tell you, anyone who has put up with me as long as he has must be a good person! I think Scott’s post today is very poignant, considering the season, and I hope you enjoy! Let him know what you think in the comments section below.
What is the thing that we so often find it near impossible to achieve?
Q: Is it that next job promotion that will launch our careers?
A: It seems as though we are already in constant pursuit of this dream, but I still think there is something that is even more difficult to achieve.
Q: Is it friendship? Good relations?
A: Maybe not. Think of how people of all shapes and sizes may find companionship in some form so long as they submit to that relationship in some way.
In our Western world, could it be that one of the hardest things to achieve is a moment of rest? We are a busy culture. Now by “we,” I mean the majority of the western world, in particular, America. Our restful moments in this society (or rather what we interpret as “rest”) often consist of an instant stream of media, data, and trending information. So here is the problem I see…we do not know how to rest!
Think with me for a second…
I read a story the other day about a German kindergarten who decided to plan their school days to mimic a typical American Kindergarten format. By this, I mean that they were going to transform their kindergarten format which consisted of a half day of school mostly filled with recess and play to a format like a good ole American Kindergarten of 7+ hours of school a day with only a brief period for recess. You know what they found? They found out that the children did not learn any more than they did with the other schedule. You know what did increase? The children’s stress levels. The children could not find anything to absorb and rest.
Why do I mention this story? Well I think it displays some truth towards the very lives that adults try and live here in our Western world, a life of abandonment from rest and silence. “U.S. workers received an average of 12 vacation days in 2012 [after being decrease from 14 days in earlier years], but only used 10 of them, according to Expedia’s survey” exclaims Jillian Anthony of CNN Money. The saddest news of all is the fact that this trend is worsening. It has allowed America to be named the “no-vacation nation.”
And do we not see the effects of “rest”less living? Constant increases in divorces, stressed and over-worked people, tiredness, and many other things are symptoms of this plague. I see it in my friends, extended family, fiancé and myself. What will it take to reach a point of rest?
However, we are seeing a slight shift recently in some companies as people are being allowed “rest breaks” rather than “coffee breaks”. From what I have heard, these rest breaks have proven to create more positive atmospheres in the workplace, more motivated workers, and better company efficiency. Hopefully these rest breaks will catch on in more companies.
Being a Christian, I have observed the wisdom in how God was insistent that the nation of Israel practice a day of Sabbath. Basically this was a day of rest. No work in the field was to be done and no unnecessary strain. What were they supposed to do? Be with their families! They were to enjoy the moment! They were to simply be still and rest.
Now whether you are a Christian or not, I think that there is something very healthy in implementing a similar discipline in our lives. This is very difficult sometimes for us. I do see that people have moments of what I like to call, “American Rest” which consists of sitting or lying around and resting on our iPhones, computers, or favorite shows. But how would it look (and I am about to throw something out here that this beyond crazy!) if during our “rest” times, we boycotted the influence of media, the pull of Facebook/social media, the ring of a cell phone, and simply, I don’t know, turned off our devices and dwelled in the bigger world around us? I often wonder:
How would it look if a father decided to take off early from work to play a board game with his children at home?
How would it look to turn off our electronic lives and sit in reality with our real families and friends rather than to sit cyberland?
How would it look if we took our days off of work and vacationed!?
What would it look like to just rest?
So if I may be so bold into challenging us all to rest in our busyness so that we may put busyness to rest. Make it a discipline to turn off your phone for 15 minutes a day and enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, enjoy your life! Maybe by doing so, we will achieve something bigger and better than a unsatisfying paycheck. Maybe instead we will receive the sustaining gift of joy.