catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 14 :: 2011.07.22 — 2011.09.01


Holy rest

Perhaps I speak for a generation, and if so, that’s okay.  We comprise a large percentage of the general population and the church, the body of believers. Like countless others in my generation, I memorized Ephesians 2:8-10 as practically the second most important passage, after John 3:16. We can quote the words of Paul like a chorus:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the will of God, not as a result of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has pepared before hand that we should walk in them.

Therein lies the rub: created for good works. It is as though we missed the saved by grace part, and somehow labor under the premise that we must fill our days and nights with good works. We also struggle with feeling guilty if and when we give time to play. Do we really, in practice, believe in salvation by the work we do?

It is interesting that we American citizens are known worldwide for not taking our vacation days. The average American has 13 days of vacation, yet less than 60% use all of those vacation days. In Europe, workers enjoy 28-42 days of vacation, and an average of 75% of them use all of their days. And remember, theoretically, the some still consider the U.S. “a Christian nation” while most of Europe would not claim that distinction.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that once more we have missed the boat by not considering the whole counsel of God. Do we really believe Proverbs 17: 22, which says, “A merry heart doeth good like medicine?” Merry just means joyful or glad.  Pretty simple, huh? In Galatians 5:22, joy is listed as the second of the fruit of the Spirit. Joy, akin to merriment, simply means gladness. We do know that laughing and experiencing joy causes a release of endorphins that brings decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins that lead to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones and enhancement of the immune response. Sounds good, right?  The medical community also affirms that play is important for both children and adults. It is how we learn, calm and focus ourselves, generate creativity, develop and improve our social skills, build community and even heal emotional wounds.

In sum, I think God wants us to play, to laugh out loud, to walk away from work and the lie I grew up hearing that to burn out with good works is a desirable thing. Think about the myth there, how the burnt-out and cut-short life actually diminishes the opportunity to glorify God.  Instead, our loving God, who made us to enjoy play, to need play in order to learn, to build community and to heal, must smile Himself when we take a few hours or days to just relax, to lay aside our work and recharge our batteries.

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