Happy Labor Day??
Admit it. If you’re like a lot of Americans, you’re not really sure why you don’t have to work today.
I looked it up. (You’re welcome.) Wikipedia, fount of all knowledge, says:
“Labor Day is an American federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September (September 3 in 2012) that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.”
So there you have it. Go light up that barbecue and “celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers”. Party time.
If you’re like a lot of Americans, you work a lot:
- ABC Newsreports, “Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world.”
- “And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later too.”
- 20somethingfinance.com cites this stat: “In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours a week.”
- The Fiscal Times reports that, “American families worked an average of 11 hours more per week in 2006 than they did in 1979.”
Feeling exhausted? Now you know why.
Personally, I know that as a father of 4 I work one very full-time job, plus I fill in with a second and third job at times. Like so many others, I have to in order to keep up with the costs of raising a family. That’s just how it is today. With so many out of work, I am beyond thankful to have jobs that pay the bills.
With as much as we work, we have to also be skilled at rest.
The trouble is, to many workaholics rest is a four-letter word.
- We work so much we don’t pause to enjoy the simple satisfactions of life, like the presence of our loved ones.
- We don’t know how to say, “Enough is enough. I’m done working for this week.”
- We don’t dare STOP and rest.
God lays out a clear pattern to follow, a rhythm that keeps work and rest balanced. All throughout Scripture, Old Testament and New, we see Him providing for our long-term health and vitality.
This is the pattern: WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK STOP.
Count them up. 6 days of work. 1 day to STOP. Rest. Relax. Recharge.
In the Old Testament God installed all sorts of celebrations and festivals, special “holy days” that punctuated the annual calendar with time for rest and reflection. This kept God’s people from burning out. They knew how to work, and they knew when to rest. God, who himself rested on the seventh day of creation, laid out a pattern of self-care for His people.
Better yet, in the New Testament, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Jesus, God in man, who was on a mission to save the world from sin, was not too busy to rest. He often pulled away with a few disciples, or by himself, to a deserted place. He stopped healing, blessing and teaching in order to slow down and rest up.
If God has modeled rest as a holy practice throughout all Scripture, maybe we could stand to learn from Him.
Today I encourage you to pause, even STOP. Sit down. Chill out. Spend some time with those people you work so hard to provide for, and enjoy time with them.
Want more help?
Read “Running on Empty“