Believe it or not, a few years ago I actually ran a marathon? Yep, I said marathon, all 26.2 miles of the Long Beach Marathon. Now I know that lots of people run marathons, but I’m not a runner. I am a swimmer and water polo player. I love the water and I would rather swim a mile or two then run any day. Besides, why run when you can walk there just fine! But being shamed into training and running a marathon (that’s a whole other story) I took on the task and finished the race. I did not break any records but I did average between 10-11 minutes a mile.
Now the whole reason I am bringing up this past event is that I was reminded again this week of an important life lesson I learned while training. It is the lesson of the value of proper rest. How this not-a-runner (me) ran a marathon was not only the endurance of running for longer and longer times, but taking the proper time to rest. See most every Trainer will tell you strength and endurance is built by taking the proper rest. As a matter of fact in weight training muscle is actually built, not when you are pumping that iron, but when you rest. It is why interval training is so effective; it is the balance of hard work and proper rest.
However, always resting with no sweat-bringing work or activity actually causes muscle to atrophy, to breakdown and we become weaker. The key is the proper rest in the midst of vigorous activity. That’s how I trained and ran the marathon, I ran for three minutes and walked for one minutes…and did that for 26.2 miles. I still run that way (though I am paying for resting too much and just now getting back in running shape).
The life lesson I was reminded of was making sure I am both working hard and getting the proper rest. See I have this constant struggle where it’s tough for me to rest. I love spending time with the Lord, living life with my wife, love my family, my friends, and my life. I love the exciting things each day brings; the joy of a sunrise, the beauty of a sunset, the satisfaction of breaking a sweat while making the yards look nice, the hours of study unveiling the truths of God’s Word, loving on people in need, meeting with a couple preparing for marriage, investing in leaders, preaching, teaching, leading, casting vision…and all the fun adventures God brings my way. Rest seems such a waste of time! Yet I know it’s as important as the other activities in my day.
Yes God wants us to work hard:
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
Working with all our heart means we put some passion, energy, effort into all we do, to do our excellent best, not half-hearted or apathetic, but to value our efforts. The idea is as God gives us life, live it working hard.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
But in this work and striving we are to make time and take time to rest.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
God set it up that we should take regular times of rest:
Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
It’s in those time we are renewed, rejuvenated, replenished, revitalized, and a whole lot of other ‘re’ words. Jesus said…
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
It’s difficult to connect with Jesus when our minds are full of the never ending to-do lists. Yet when we humble ourselves and take time to rest, kick back, do nothing, sit and watch the trees grow, the Lord can build into us strength.
Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
So yes, take time and make time for the proper rest. Yes work hard, but don’t neglect the rest (don’t neglect the hard work either) and see the difference. I know for me when I hit that proper balance of work and proper rest I feel better, I’m more productive at work, I go deeper with God in my times with Him, I’m a better husband, dad, friend, neighbor…you get the picture. See this lesson came because I was not taking that proper rest. I had just been plowing, not making the time or taking the time to rest, so I finally took some vacation and though it was tough for me, I got back in balance.
What about you? Work hard and take that proper rest…it really makes a difference.
Seeking God’s balance of hard work and proper rest with you,