229: Fruitfulness on the Frontline – Working from rest, not resting from work

Search for ‘work-life balance’ books on Amazon and you’ll find 1,200 results, including ‘Work-life balance for dummies’; ‘busy, how to thrive in a world of too much’, and even ‘From Frazzled to Fabulous, how to juggle a successful career, fatherhood, me time and looking good’! In today’s frenetic world, finding a balance between work and rest appears impossible – but what does God have to say?

Words for the Week

Genesis 1:26-2:3,15 (NLT)

Then God said, “Let us make human beings[a] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[d] from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.


Writer’s Thoughts

Work and rest are important concepts in the Bible. As soon as humankind came into being, we were commissioned to ‘be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and govern it.’ We experience this in our basic need to find meaningful activity – paid or unpaid – and the sense of uselessness or depression which accompanies periods of inactivity or unemployment.

We were also made to rest. God not only rested on the 7th day – he established the rhythm of rest through the command for a ‘Sabbath’ for people (Exodus 20:10), and also for the land (Leviticus 25:5). After a particularly busy time, Jesus told his disciples to ‘come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’, (Mark 6:31) and burnout Elijah needed to sleep, eat and sleep some more before he was ready to hear from God. (1 Kings 19:3-6)

Personally, I know I do much better when I’ve had at least six – preferably 7 1/2 – hours sleep a night, and I try to keep Sundays as relaxed as possible. When I’m rested, I make better decisions at work, have more energy to be there for other people, and am generally less stressed and anxious about what might happen next. But I need more than just physical rest in order to ‘work from a place of rest’. I need what the Bible describes as ‘soul-rest’ and it is what Jesus offers when he invites us to walk with him, and work with him and learn his ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (Matthew 11:28-30)

Let’s spend more time listening to the things we can’t hear and therefore coming closer to the things we cannot see. This will not only prepare us for Heaven, it will enable us to live the life of Heaven, the true Sabbath, here on earth.
Stephen Cottrell

This kind of rest comes from knowing we are completely loved and accepted by God. Often our identity and sense of worth and lies in what we do and how successful we think we are. Being ‘busy’ becomes a status symbol and it’s only then we think we are acceptable to God and other people. In God’s upside down Kingdom, it’s the opposite. We already are acceptable to him. Through trusting him and living out of our identity of his beloved children we find freedom to be who he created us to be, and this brings an incredible sense of peace, wellbeing – and rest.

As Psalm 62:5 encourages us:
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
My hope comes from him
He alone is my rock and my salvation
He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken”

The soul was made to rest in God the way a tree rests in soil.
John Ortberg

Own it personally…

  • How much is your identity in what you do, and how much is it in who are you as a child of God? Spend some time talking to God about this.
  • Jesus encourages us to ‘come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest’. Are there moments within the day when you can find some space to ‘be’ in order to reconnect with God and receive his rest?
  • What burdens are you carrying which stop you finding rest for your soul? Come to Jesus and tell him about how you are feeling. Picture yourself laying them down at his feet. What is he saying to you?
  • Two useful resources to explore this topic further are:
    Do nothing to change your life (Stephen Cottrell Church House Publishing)
    Working from a place of rest (Tony Horsfall BRF)

Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy

Father, thank you that through your grace, you give me everything I need. I choose to rest in you and to find my identity in all you have done for me. May I know your rest as I go into this week ahead, in all the challenges I may face.


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