Balancing Work and Rest

Dr. Donna HartFor Those Seeking HopeLeave a Comment

Balancing work and rest is a tough task. But placing a premium on striking a balance matters in honoring God. Dr. Donna Hart, PhD, shares valuable insights as well as an invitation to a women’s retreat. 

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A couple of weeks ago I was at a leadership retreat where we were to arrive on a Monday evening and meet with our small groups for dinner. We were asked to come with a question that we wanted to present before God for the discernment of His will.

But I came into the retreat so tired I felt like an airplane coming in for a crash landing. Our first task was to discuss with the group our questions for discernment, and I could listen to everyone talk but felt like it was hard to contribute and talk. Someone said to me later it was hard to pull words out of me.

It was clear to me that I needed better balance in my life; but I did not know how to even form the discernment question before God. It felt like a muddle of disconnected thoughts.

Too Weary to Balance Work and Rest?

Have you ever been so tired that you felt like your life was just a muddle? Do you long for a deeper relationship with God and more balance in your life? We inherently know that we are made to work. However, our task-oriented lives can quickly consume our focus, causing us to lose balance and intimacy with God.

We see in the beginning of the book of Genesis that God worked and worked for the sheer joy of it (Genesis 1:31, 2:1).

God works to create and to care for His creation.  God creates human beings and then works for them as their Provider. He forms man (Genesis 2:7). He plants a garden for man and waters it (Genesis 2:6, 8).  He fashions a wife for Adam (Genesis 2:21-22). The rest of the Bible tells us that God continues this work as Provider (Psalm 104:10). He gives food to all he has made, giving help to all who suffer, and caring for the needs of every living thing (Psalm 145:14-16).

God not only works but commissions workers to carry on his work (Genesis 1:28).  The word “subdue” indicates that, though all God had made was good, it was still to a great degree undeveloped. God left creation with deep untapped potential for cultivation that people were to unlock through their labor. In Genesis 2:15 we see God put human beings into the garden to “work and keep it.”

God works for us as Provider and we also work for Him.

Finding the Rhythm of Work and Rest

Work was a part of paradise.  God created us to live in the cycle of work and rest.  It was part of God’s perfect design for human life, because we were made in God’s image, and part of His glory and happiness is that He works, as does the Son of God, who said, “My Father is always at his work to this day, and I too am working,” (John 5:17).

Timothy Keller says,

Work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, and sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul.

Without meaningful work we sense a significant inner loss and emptiness.

It is one of the ways we make ourselves useful to others, rather than just live a life for ourselves. And it is in rhythm with rest is one of the Ten Commandments, (Exodus 20:9).

In the beginning God created us to work, and now He calls us and directs us, unambiguously, to live out that part of our design. This is not a burdensome command; it is an invitation to freedom. We will not have a meaningful life without work, but we cannot say that our work is the meaning of our lives.

If we make any work the purpose of our lives, even if that work is church ministry, we create an idol that rivals God.  Work and lots of it is an indispensable component in a meaningful human life. It is a gift from God and one of the main things that gives our lives purpose. It must play its proper role subservient to God.

Join the Discussion

Is work and rest in its proper rhythm in your life? Do you need to take some time to sort through the “muddle” of doing and find rest in the Lord?

An Invitation to Rest!

I invite you to come join me on Friday evening June 29 for a 24-hour retreat of stepping away from the to-do lists to rest in the Lord deepening your intimacy with Him. See more details and sign up below.

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The Lord wants us to find Sabbath rest for our souls so we can find balanced rest in our everyday work, (Hebrews 4:9). Come worship, learn, rest, and enjoy the magnificent beauty of God’s creation at University of Saint Mary of the Lake Conference Center in Mundelein, IL, on June 29.

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