“ ‘Holy leisure’ refers to a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves” (Richard J. Foster).

MANY OF THE CRACKS IN OUR CULTURE ARE “STRESS FRACTURES.” We are a driven people, almost frantic in the pace of our lives. And we’re not only busy, but we’re proud of our busyness, as if our involvement in so many activities indicated that we are more “with it” than those who are less busy or that we have a greater sense of responsibility. Whatever the reason may be, our overcommitment has cost us dearly. Many of our less-than-desirable social characteristics are the traits of people who are seriously short of rest.

Rest. All work requires some sort of “fuel,” and doing the work uses up the fuel. At that point, the fuel has to be replenished, and that is the reason for rest: it is meant to renew us and recharge our energies. In a sense, our resources (whether physical or mental) are not permanently ours — they have to be “re-created” by regular periods of rest and repose. Taking care of this is not being lazy. Laziness is, as someone has said, resting before we are tired. But when we are tired, it is not lazy to rest. In fact, when we are tired, it is dangerous not to rest. 

Restfulness. In addition to periods of rest, we also need restfulness, which is something a little different than mere rest. Restfulness is a mode of thinking and a manner of living, even when we are busy. It is, as Richard J. Foster said, “an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day.” Restfulness is knowing how to hasten leisurely.

In a culture like ours, both rest and restfulness require discipline. Without a certain amount of training and self-maintenance, we won’t take the time for rest. It is a choice that we must learn to make.

Yet the discipline of restfulness is a discipline that pays great dividends, not the least of which is that we do better work. It’s only a fool who thinks he can be more productive by never turning the machinery off for maintenance. Wise people know better.

“Cultivate the habit of doing one thing at a time with quiet deliberateness. Always allow yourself a sufficient margin of time in which to do your work well. Frequently examine your working methods to discover and eliminate unnecessary tension. Aim at poise, repose, and self-control. The relaxed worker accomplishes most” (H. W. Dresser).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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