The Labor Day holiday is a good time to remind ourselves that God considers work to be more than a physical effort. Work is spiritual as well, and God has a vested interest in how we approach it. In light of that, what would we say if someone asked us to describe when and how our normal workday gets underway? We might begin with an overview of our morning routine, which in my case, began rather early for most of my life. Quite honestly, though, I wasn’t one of those “Type A” guys with a built in desire to be the early bird that got the worm. I would have been fine being the bird that said, “I’ll just come along later and maybe grab a slow-running bug for lunch.” I got up early because my job demanded it. That meant that for more years than I care to remember, I had a love/hate relationship with alarm clocks (remember those things?). I preferred the ones that just emitted a gentle buzzing sound, unlike the auditory assault mechanism my step-dad used…
No Excuses Allowed ~
Being the host of a local AM radio program that began the station’s broadcast day meant that Dad had to be at the studio to sign on at daybreak. Any excuse for being late that wasn’t being phoned in from a hospital or a police station was unacceptable. Creating the broadcasting curse of “dead air time” because of a late sign-on was unthinkable, so getting up on time was priority one. To allay his fear of oversleeping, Dad got himself one of those wind-up alarm clocks dubbed as “Big Ben”. (If you remember those things, don’t admit it. Folks will think you’re old.)
Dad’s wake-up insurance had chrome bells and spring-driven hammers and when the set time arrived, it was unmistakably clear why it was called an “alarm” clock. The noise would make a Banshee run and hide, but even that wasn’t enough for Dad. He put the clock in a galvanized metal wash tub to amplify the sound and then set the whole apparatus on the other side of the room so that he had to get out of the bed to turn it off. By the time he got to it, everyone in the family – and probably all the chickens in the neighbor’s henhouse – were wide awake.
A Purpose Driven Routine ~
Dad never left the beginning of his day to chance because there was too much riding on it. He knew his faithful fans would be out there turning on their radios, anxious to hear what he had to say that day. So, while we teenagers were screaming forbidden words into our pillows and wishing we could take a sledge hammer to that clock, Dad’s mind was on the work he was entrusted to do.
You and I may not be broadcasters like he was, but we do have some things in common. The world is out there waiting for those contributions to its welfare that God wants to provide through us, and though we may not think about it, there’s a lot riding on when and how we begin our workday.
When conversations begin about an overwhelming spiritual need and our responsibility to meet it, many of us have an unintentional defensive response. We might not mention it out loud, but our inner thoughts could sound something like this: “Oh no . . . The ‘guilt-wave’ machine is about to kick up even higher, and I already feel like I’m drowning.” If it seems like our spiritual efforts are being less than productive, it might be helpful to take another look not only at how our day begins, but when.
Losing the Battle ~
A simple glance at the prevailing moral standards, or lack of them, in our country makes it clear that the popular culture is doing a much more effective job of discipling than the churches. Cultural influence is channeling more Christians into the world’s system of values and behaviors than the combined efforts of all our professionally-developed and denominationally- approved discipleship programs. There are many techniques at work every day that are very effective in pulling believers away from God’s work. But because this is our Labor Day edition, we’ll focus on a work-related one that’s easy to overlook.
The Western mindset that permeates our country is purposely designed to keep us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. No one performs at peak efficiency when they are “overworked”. No one thinks most clearly when they are overcome by pressure and stress. No one is as physically strong and resilient when fatigue has crept in and depleted all reserves. No one is most compassionate, empathetic, and loving when fear and anxiety are laying on their hearts like a lead weight. Our best work on every level always follows our best rest, and the culture wants to allow neither.
An Unexpected Strategy ~
Jesus reached out to a people burdened under the weight of the rules imposed on them by a corrupt organization. He called them to turn from an intrusive and endlessly demanding system run by narcissistic elites who refused to do what they required of others. He invited them to come to Him, to learn God’s truth from Him, and to find something that the world would never offer — rest. He said:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30 NKJV)
A world full of broken, lost, and hopeless people are crying out for the best we have, and they won’t receive it if we continue to operate out of our fatigue and exhaustion. Not surprisingly, God had a better idea. We can find a glimpse of His strategy in the way the Jews viewed their day. The Jewish day didn’t begin at sunrise . . . It began at sunset. I think that was a piece of genius from the living God who designed and created us.
A Different Perspective at Work ~
Their new workday began by laying down their tools, nourishing their body, relaxing with those they loved, winding down mentally and physically, and allowing their weary bodies to recuperate in sleep. It might seem like just a meaningless manipulation of perspectives, but it isn’t meaningless at all. If our best work follows our best rest, then maybe we should give it the priority that it deserves and put its benefits in their proper place.
Our bodies get rejuvenated when we rest. Healing goes on while we sleep. Strength is renewed when our minds, bodies, and hearts slow down. We escape the world for a while when we’re able to lie down and close our eyes. Being at our best isn’t always accomplished by putting in more hours, racking up more steps, doing another hour on the exercise bike while we plug in to another podcast. God designed us so that consistently doing our best demands allowing ourselves to escape the external demands . . . and rest.
It makes sense, then, that God’s response to a potential harvest of incredible proportions and the need for the very best from every one of us, is to call us to rest. Our best work does, indeed, follow our best rest, and God has provided a rest whose benefits reach the depth of our very soul. There’s a world full of demands waiting for us with every new day, and God is sending us out to engage them in His name. His strategy for beginning that workday is for us to shut our eyes and ears to the disabling distractions and allow the presence of Jesus Christ to rejuvenate, energize, and inspire us for the task ahead.
So, have a good Labor Day, friends . . . and hey, tell your demanding world to “Give it a rest.”
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “The world is out there waiting for the contributions to its welfare that God wants to provide through us, and though we may not think about it, there’s a lot riding on when and how we begin our workday.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The Western mindset that permeates our country is purposely designed to keep us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Our best work on every level always follows our best rest, and the culture wants to allow neither.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus reached out to those burdened under the weight of the rules imposed by a corrupt organization run by narcissistic elites who refused to do what they required of other, inviting them to find something the world would never offer – rest.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Being at our best isn’t always accomplished by putting in more hours and doing another hour on the exercise bike. God designed us so that consistently doing our best demands allowing ourselves to escape the external demands . . . and rest.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “There’s a world full of demands waiting. God’s strategy for beginning that workday is to shut our eyes & ears to the disabling distractions & allow the presence of Jesus Christ to rejuvenate, energize, and inspire us for the task ahead.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
The Kindle e-version is just $1.99. No Kindle device is needed. E-book readers are included on most computers, tablets, and smartphones. If you don’t have one, the free Kindle app can be easily downloaded directly from the Amazon site on almost any device.
Click here for a “Look Inside” preview at Amazon.
© 2021 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.