Friday, June 28, 2013

The Rhythm of Life

Today is the final day of our 25th week, reading the Bible together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  1 Kings 5; 2 Chronicles 2; 2 Thessalonians 3.  

Today is Friday, and that means it's my day off  Today is June 28th, and that means it's also my birthday!  We're taking the kids to Busch Gardens (though they don't know it yet) for a day of fun.  It'll be a day of much-needed rest.  Since we moved to Scottsburg, it's been difficult to establish a pattern of work and rest.  The kids are in summer break from school, which means it's a time of rest for them.  Yet, I've started a new ministry here at Bethel, and it's always important to "hit the ground running."  There's so much to do right at the beginning--beyond everyday ministry, there are business cards to get printed, offices to set up, installation services to plan, not to mention a house to unpack.  So today's recreation is pretty important.

Solomon and Hiram plan the temple together
Today's scriptures are about the balance between R&R and work.  The 1 Kings passage talks about all the workers that Solomon and Hiram employed for the building of the temple in Jerusalem.  Verses 13-14a (ESV) say, "King Solomon drafted forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men.  And he sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in shifts. They would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home."  The lives of these conscripted workers involved a predictable rhythm between rest and labor.  In 2 Chronicles 2, we also read about times of rest.  Verse 4 says, "Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel."  This means that part of the purpose of the temple was to provide a place for people to worship on their days off.  People need to have days of work and days of rest--otherwise, they'll burn out.

Even in the story of Creation, we find that God labored six days when He created the universe.  Then He rested in his creation on the seventh day.  When God gave the Law, He told the people to rest on the seventh day, just as He had done.  The Christian church changed the day to Sunday in observance of the Lord's resurrection.  Hopefully our own spirits will be resurrected as we observe regular times of rest and worship.

The Bible commands rest from labor.  But it also reminds us of the value of good work.  2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 (ESV) says:

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Yet, even as Paul adjures people to work hard at their labor, he also reminds them, "As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good (v. 13)."  Make sure, as you're doing good work, that you don't let yourself get burned out.

I hope that your life has a healthy rhythm between work and rest, between labor and play, between toil and recreation.  I hope that you take regular time off, to recuperate from the pressures of life.  Someone once recommended to me that we "divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually."  Maybe we ought to add something like "meander monthly, and quarantine quarterly."  In any case, a regular rhythm of work and rest takes the pressure off and enables you to enjoy the life that God has given you.  I pray that you make the most out of the time you have--and sometimes that means work, but sometimes that means taking a break, kicking your feet up, and doing nothing.  

Have a great and glorious day!

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