For me… the idea of movement and progress is equated to purpose, value, and success. I’m learning to reconsider that premise.
It’s no secret I am active and busy 18 hours a day / 7 days a week / 365 days a year. I’ve made a lifelong habit of getting up early and working before the day even dawns and then pushing through until I drop at the end of my day. I’ve worked two jobs most of my life, each stressful and exhausting in their own right.
I’ve even taken pride in my work ethic, inwardly satisfied with my extra effort and confident in my ability to push through difficult moments when others would just quit.
This is a reflection of the American ideal, a shadow of the family heritage I inherited of hard work, dedication, and extra effort to do things with ‘excellence’. It was a trait my dad carried to his grave, and his dad before him… and his great “Pop” before him… many of us can identify.
Here’s the rub. It’s not healthy or even seen by God as a spiritual strength, but rather as a hindrance, even a deception.
The culture we live in has long celebrated the achievements of the independent and hard-working, noting that success doesn’t happen by accident… “that luck is merely a matter of preparation meeting opportunity”. (Oprah)
It’s all true. We can work harder, go further, and do more with extreme effort and tenacity. But it’s NOT a spiritual principle that Jesus taught or the bible supports.
The first chapters of the bible illustrate the need for rest… with the conception of a seventh day.
The power of God is repeatedly revealed to the nation of Israel when they would stop, and stand still. THEN… they would see the salvation of the Lord.
The stepping back and going away habit of Jesus is repeated in every gospel book in the bible. He is constantly hiding from the crowds, and his disciples to sneak off to a mountain where he can find relief from the hurry up.
The power or strength of God is released in our weakness according to Paul.
The question gets very specific when we look directly at these ideas and images… how often do we ‘rest’. How frequently do we allow ourselves to stop working, stop tinkering with stuff, and just be ‘still’?
There will always be something of God absent in us until we do.