By: Raymond Harris
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time researching the concept and benefits of sabbatical rest in conjunction with this article.
R and R
We all have heard of “R and R.” No, we are not talking about “Rock n’ Roll” nor are we talking about the medical use of R and R “Rescue and Resuscitation.”1 We probably know R&R better as “Rest and Recreation” or “Rest and Recuperation”2 with the last R&R sometimes prescribed by doctors to overworked, overspent, overfatigued patients. “Rest and Relaxation” is another variation that I have heard and it has a certain value, but in light of the Labor Day weekend, and for our purposes I would like to offer the idea of “Rest and Rejuvenation.”
Rest and Rejuvenation Needed
In this day and age when everything is: Go. Go. GO! How wonderful does it sound to slow down? Slowing down, you know, taking time “to smell the roses.” But there is one problem, slowing down means not being able to see or do something, anything. If there is one area in which we, as Americans, seem to struggle is restlessness. We struggle to sleep. We struggle to stay coherent with our attention? I’m sorry, “what did you say, I was texting, while I was emailing, while on the phone with my boss, co-worker, friend, while I was shopping for my kids’ shoes.” We struggle to get up in the morning. When we work, we are probably thinking about not working. When we are not working, we are probably thinking about work. We seem to struggle to maintain our focus and our energies because we are restless.
Let us consider for a few moments, the last idea for R and R, that being “Rest and Rejuvenation.” Wikipedia offered up interesting information that Labor Day was first observed in the United States in 1882. Additionally, in 1909 the American Federation of Labor convention put forth and adopted a measure saying that the Sunday preceding the observance of Labor Day would offer spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.3 This offers to us a very interesting concept, labor and the labor force should have spiritual education.
Rest and Rejuvenation Sanctioned
It is an interesting historical development that it is not Canada who offered the first Labor Day,4 no. Resting from labor is actually found in a much more ancient document. It has been observed that laborers labored continually, without a day of rest, until the rescue of some bewildered laborers from their task-driven, task-oriented bosses. The first sanctioned observance of cessation – a rest if one will – from labor was given to the ancient Israelites as they were brought out of bondage.5 Also notice and be keenly aware that they were to observe a day of rest because of their bondage to forced continuous labor – in other words they were commanded to rest because they previously labored 24/7.6
We often think of forced labor as slavery, while that is true, forced labor can also include the aspect of being literally “worked to death,” the unrelenting use and misuse of the labor until the laborer is worthless physically, mentally, emotionally, dare I say spiritually. In how many ways can one become not just inefficient but incapable toward the task of laboring when one is “burned out?”
Rest and Rejuvenation Implemented?
While there is a spiritual argument to be made – which is proper to do so – we need to see the beauty of what God ordained thousands of years ago. He ordained, He set aside, He actually carved out a piece of time in order to give his people peace. Peace from labor. Peace of mind. Peace spiritually. We are over worked, and over spent; almost burned out, if not burned out – because we run 24/7. There are a million-and-one things to see and do. We seem to want to do a million things minus one. Because of this constant drive to labor and to do, fatigue runs high in our nation.
It is interesting to note, that God established a full day of rest every seven days. So on top of nightly rest, there is a full day of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rejuvenation. A weekly time period designed for total human being revitalization. The notion that should be not just put forward, but accepted is: Will we begin to examine again the benefit of having one seventh of our days dedicated to true “Rest and Rejuvenation?” May the LORD bless each of us to seek not just to do his will, but to rest as he gave us permission to do.
1. “R & R.” The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 3 Sep. 2009 http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-randr.html.
2. “r and r.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 03 Sep. 2009. dictionary .com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/r and r.
3. “Labor Day.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 2009. Wikipedia.com. 3 Sep. 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day>.
5. Day of Rest argued from divine labor and rest, Exodus 20.8-11, NASB.
6. Day of Rest argued from labor oppression, Deuteronomy 5.12-15, NASB.