Work Hard, Rest Hard
One of the toughest things for me to do is slow down. This became very apparent to me when I was recently confronted by this question: “God is never in a hurry. Can you move as slow as God?” (Craig Barnes).
I think some people react fairly peaceably to this question, responding with “Ahhh, yes, that is so nice and comforting and wonderful.” I, however, respond with a “What!? Slow? Nope.” Slowing down to me often feels synonymous with laziness, unproductivity, even apathy. The slower I go, the less I get done, the less accomplished I feel. If you get right down to the bottom of it, you’ll see that my rate of production directly corresponds with my personal sense of worth. Basically, the busier I am, the more important I feel.
We often project our busy lives and schedules onto God. We have so much to do. God is just going right along for the ride like a child being pulled along from one roller coaster to the next. We are bouncing from point A to point B, checking off our to-do lists, running around and forgetting to eat lunch and hydrate. God can even become an item on our to-do list and we explain it away, saying, “Oh, God knows how much stuff I have to do, he gets it.” And yes, he sees you and he knows what you have to do for work, school, etc. But just because he sees how busy and distracted you are, doesn’t mean he’s necessarily cool with it all.
Slowing down is about more than getting time off or taking a vacation. Slowing down is really about pausing to assess what God is doing in your life and in the lives of those around you. This is no easy task as it requires discipline to listen to God and even seek counsel from the people in your life who know you and care about your well-being. This can be scary because it means taking inventory of your heart and your mind – seeing what cobwebs are starting to collect, what lies are starting to creep in, and what things you’re avoiding for fear that your plans will get derailed by God’s plans. I am terrible at slowing down enough to listen – it’s so much easier to carry on as normal, subtly pushing aside anything that could potentially disrupt my life. No, thanks, I see you, problem, but I think I’ll just keep moving forward.
For many, our sense of worth is coming from how many pen marks and highlighter strokes are in our daily planners. God is not blind to the various demands placed on us by school and work and relationships – he is not ignorant to the culture we live in or lacking in understanding. He is certainly not that friend who is constantly pestering you about when you’ll be free to hang out, because you’re always so busy, and you never make time for him, and don’t you even like him anymore?
God is all-powerful and sovereign and wise and he knows that we are dust and that we will eventually run out of steam. Our busyness does not deter him nor does it engulf him.
Are we worried that if we slow down, God will stop working? If I stop working and doing, God won’t work out my future. If I do my part, then God will see me and bless me. If I help myself, God will help me. If I don’t cover all my bases, then God won’t follow through on his promises. There’s very subtly flawed thinking behind these sentiments. While I do believe that we absolutely need to be responsible stewards in our workplace, with our education, and in our relationships, I also believe that nothing we do will ever earn us all the goodness that God has for us (and remember that God’s goodness often looks quite different than what we deem “good”). Our value will not come from how much we’ve accomplished and it will not diminish according to how much vacation time we’ve taken because our value is not the product of an equation. Our value is eternally nestled in this: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
God is never in a hurry. He doesn’t run on human time. He is working when we are not and he sees us and loves us even in our most stressed-out, manic moments. Try to move as slow as God this week – stop to consider him and how much he loves you and this world. If we do this, I think it will greatly affect how we work and rest.
-Vanessa Coker // @vncoker