Monday, May 25, 2015

Remembering Rest

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

The sky has been shifting all day from sunny to overcast to rainy as clouds roll through as if they're running away from something. It's the perfect day for an afternoon nap. In fact, I just woke up from one. I've joked that naps should have been built into my schedule when I was in college -- for credit. All jokes aside, naps truly are the Eighth Wonder of the World.

And now that my mind has come out of a dream state, it's back to swirling about like thousands of fish in a tiny tank. I tend to think about all that needs to get done, all the work I need to accomplish, whether it be for my job or the work of helping run a home, being a friend to others, loving my family. On that last one you might be saying, "that's not work," but admit it, you know it is. It's good work, but work nonetheless.

What tends to consume my mind is what has yet to be done. In fact, I can sit here and stare at the screen for minutes -- very valuable minutes seeing as how I'm on a 30 minute time -- and be consumed by what will come next. I don't write anything! Other than that, it can be the dinner I'm going to cook tonight, the budget I'll prepare for my Free Spirit to glance, the tough phone call I have to make, and especially the week of work ahead of me at the office. Again, some of this is good and some of it can be anxiety inducing.

Do you know what I mean? Doesn't it especially hit you at the end of a long weekend like this? Great philosophers have written about this, philosophers like The Bangles, who wrote an entire song about the weekend's end called Manic Monday, where they exposit that they wish it were Sunday because that's their "fun day." And there's the other great writer, Mike Judge, who, in his classic film Office Space, encapsulated what we all feel in one poignant line, "Looks like somebody's got a case of the Mondays."

Mondays, or in this case Tuesday with the long weekend, can bring with them a sense of dread. Knowing that everybody's working for the weekend, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we love Fridays a ton and dread Mondays because the weekends give freedom to do what we want. Weekends give us the freedom to nap. And as I make the obvious term to get deep right now, I want to say that weekends give us a glimpse into the rest we long for, a rest that doesn't seem achievable in this world.

That's because we have forgotten. We've forgotten what the Psalm I shared at the top is striving to remind us. We can work. We can build our "houses" -- creating for ourselves our names, our reputation, our bank accounts, our promotions. We can guard our "gates" -- protecting all that we've built up in our time. But without the Lord, it is all empty and the fruits of our efforts are the kind of bread that we can't enjoy. Instead, you and I are called to remember that our Creator has made us, his Creation, to know that we are loved by him, given freedom to rest in this life, and enjoy a nap.

Anxious toil is about gripping tightly to your work in this world and all that you accomplish. Rest is about relinquishing control to Him because, regardless of what you do, He is the one Who makes it matter.

My nap reminded me of this today. I needed it. I hope you needed it today too.

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