I work a lot. I’m holding down a full-time job, plus three one-hour private classes a week, and four others sprinkled throughout the month. I usually get home around 8:30 and then it’s supper, shower, bed. I had been at this for about four weeks when I was sitting on the couch, playing a video game, and a sudden feeling of guilt came over me. I told my wife and she asked me why. I said that it was because I feel like I should be working. I had yet to switch off. I used to be pretty laid-back, and now I have a difficult time just playing a game on my phone.
Well, needless to say, I’ve been feeling tired because of it. Being an introvert, I have a difficult time with people. I’m uncomfortable around people. Don’t get me wrong, I like persons. Persons are great. All of my best friends are persons. But, none of them are people. So, when I’m around people almost all the time, I burn out. I revel in loneliness. I yearn to be left alone. If you’re an extrovert and having a difficult time imagining this, I’ll explain it the way I did to the one I married. Imagine that you’ve been locked in a room for thirteen hours a day. You’ve spent that whole time working, and none of it talking. You get home, you spend a few precious minutes with your family, and then you go to bed. You spend your entire week doing that. During the weekend, you spend a few hours chatting happily with your friends, and then you’re locked in that same room for a few more hours. Then Monday rolls around and it starts all over again. That’s how I feel.
So, there I was one evening, feeding my boy his bottle. Liz had gone for a run and, it never fails, he starts wailing. He's obviously tired. I gave him a bath, got him ready for bed, and then started feeding him. But, the poor thing is so tired that he has a hard time deciding between between sucking and crying. I could put him to bed, but I know that he’ll wake up in the middle of the night because of his empty stomach.
“I know, Buddy,” I say as he knocks his head back and cries. “I know you’re tired. I know you want to go to sleep. But, you need to have a bottle first. I know it sucks, but this is for your own good. You’ll rest soon.”
And then I feel it; something I’ve felt many times before. God is smirking at me. Not smiling, mind you. Smirking. He’s just played one of his practical jokes on me. In the midst of all this crying and wailing, I realized that I had been doing the same thing. Oh, it’s not wrong to cry when one’s tired. I’m not sure it’s a sin to wail because you just want to rest. God was reminding that rest will come, but there’s a good reason that He has kept it off. And that reason is good for me. That reason will make the rest all the more sweeter, deeper, and more satisfying.
God does not expect us to keep going. Daily life makes that obvious. We work for a time and then we sleep. The Christian understanding of work is that we do it to rest. We are not slothful nor are we workaholics. We work for a time, then we rest, then we stand up and work some more. This is the cycle of the Christian life. Heaven will not be a place where we recline all day and eat bunches of grapes in an idyllic garden. Our rest will be the work of the worship of God forever, of which we will never tire of nor grow weary. We will do it every day and still feel that we could do it one more.
To be a Christian means to embrace a full, honest rest that comes after a long day of work. We avoid the dual sins of over-working and laziness by keeping in mind that the only rest worth having is the kind that comes after working, and the only work worth doing is the one that let's us rest. This very thing was modeled at the creation of the world, when God worked and then rested.