One of the most assuring features of modern computing is that the vast majority of problems can be resolved by simply rebooting. It used to pain me when technical support representatives would ask me whether I have rebooted my computer when it became inoperable or restarted my modem when I could not establish a connection. Of course I did, just not right before I called.
It has been a long time since I had the pleasure of speaking with a technical support representative because I have gotten into the habit of shutting my systems down on a regular basis. This prevents the cache from becoming too cluttered to allow processing to occur efficiently and keeps the memory from becoming overloaded.
In the same manner, we must clear our calendars and rest our bones. Doesn’t matter whether we take a staycation or traipse the globe. What is important is that we all maintain a cycle that gets interrupted on a regular enough basis to keep us functional.
We can run from the modern workplace, but we cannot hide. We remain tethered to the office virtually 24/7 with smartphones, laptops, and cool tablet computers that blur the lines between work and play. Some of us insist on it seemingly thinking “who’s gonna run the world while I’m away?” He that keepeth thee will not slumber. (Psalm 121:3b).
I have news for you: there are no indispensible people. Workers drop dead every day and the show goes on. How many Thanksgiving turkeys have been ruined because the host insisted on slicing it upon removing it from the oven rather than allowing the required twenty minutes for the juices to redistribute? Just chill!
God was proactive in creation in modeling the necessity of taking a breather.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made (Genesis 2:1-2).
God took a day off and the whole of His creation remained intact. God has ordered us to do the same with far less at risk.
I have experienced stress-related illnesses several times in my life. Sadly, they are considered badges of honor in the circles I travel. “I’ll take your chronic insomnia and raise you an ulcer.” “Wait a minute, Bob had a heart attack at 44 despite his healthy diet and vigorous exercise routine.” “Point and game.” I say this tongue-in-cheek because there are no winners in the burnout game.
No profession is more prone to burning out than pastors. Congregations think they can’t do without them and some spiritual leaders perpetuate those sentiments. I am happy to live in a city where absence is expected in the month of August (except for the first Sunday, funerals, weddings, guest appearances, and crises). The church likewise scales back its level of activity. This increases overall productivity as it is impossible to reflect on the redemptive nature of routine things while they are still being engaged.
In the end, none of the things we use to drive ourselves into an early grave are worth the gravity we place on them. This is evidenced by the shift in priorities by those who live to tell about the effects. Go ahead and spend more time with your kids, plant a garden, play with the dog, go to the game, read a book, or simply sit in your favorite chair and vegetate.
In the same way that God provided for humans to be restored, God also ordered us to return the favor to the rest of creation.
Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard (Leviticus 25:3-4).
If you have not taken a vacation this year, plan one. If you returned from vacation more exhausted than when you departed, use your Sabbath privilege for which it was intended. And even if you find yourself in an involuntary Sabbath, take it for the blessing that God intended: rest in Him to be conformed to His likeness and will.
So give it a rest. Your family will thank you. Your friends will thank you. Your co-workers will thank you. And God will bless you.