Worshipping God through rest

Cameron Gardiner challenges workaholics to think of rest as worship, not a chore.


Cameron Gardiner writes about how rest can be used as a time of worship. | Illustration by Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Cameron Gardiner writes about how rest can be used as a time of worship. | Illustration by Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES


It’s that time in the semester. Some haven’t slept in so long they’ve forgotten what a pillow feels like. Common Grounds’ revenue is rising higher than the new Talbot building. Zombies creep around campus on the prowl for enough brains to get them through the legion of research papers waiting for them in their caves. It’s not Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It’s not “I Am Legend” — though it does bear incredible resemblance to a horror movie. Ladies and gentlemen, it is the final weeks of the semester. And not only are we studying for Bible exams and writing five late papers in a week; we are choosing classes so that we can do it all over again. But, before you decide that you want to bear through 18 units, a homeless ministry, two jobs and a Pokémon tournament come fall, ponder whether all this production is worth it.

For some, this busy lifestyle is just for a short amount of time, but for most college overachievers this has become second nature. Though we have chapels, Torrey Conference and three-hour Saturday sessions to teach us, it seems that when it comes to resting, Biola students are failing. Maybe we’re afraid that if we stop our crazy schedules for one second, we’ll suddenly be stuck as a sloth our whole lives. Maybe, we just can’t say no whenever some ask us to save the day. Maybe we’re afraid that in the quiet, we will actually have to hear God out. Whatever it is, workaholism has been a habit we just can’t kick. However, now more than ever it is imperative that we check into rehab, for our own health, future and spiritual well-being.

Side effects of working too much

Believe it or not workaholics will have just as many problems as drug addicts.

“Working too much can cause high blood pressure as well as psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and depression,” says Bryan Robinson of the University of North Carolina. But even worse, he says that workaholism can lead to alcoholism and wreaks havoc on the family cohort.

“Divorce rates are 40 percent higher for marriages where a spouse is a workaholic. Studies have also shown that children of workaholics have higher depression and higher anxiety, even more so than children of alcoholic parents,” says Robinson. So the course you set now may lead to an all out shipwreck in the future.

Thinking of rest as worship

For Christians, this is not simply a personal or even familial concern; it is a matter of worship. Under the surface of workaholism lies the idolatrous “ideology of productivity,” according to theologian Walter Brueggemann. “The most obvious manifestation is the work ethic, whereby one must work harder to achieve more in order to prove one’s worth.” Against such a degrading belief system God instituted the Sabbath, a time to rest, relax and just “be” with God. However, Sabbath is more than just a time to chill, it is “a day to renounce autonomy and to give one’s life back to God in gratitude and trust,” says Matitiahu Tsevat. Therefore, being too busy is not only dangerous — it is sinful. God made the world so well that even he could take a break. Do we really think we’re better than Him?

In the words of the great Francis Schaeffer: “How should we then live?” I can't give a comprehensive list that will resurrect your undead, exhausted corpse, but I can help you to change perspectives. To give you a laundry list of things to break the habit is both futile and tragically ironic. Rather, start to transform your vision of God and the world. Admit to yourself that you work so much because you believe that your indispensable. Perhaps you believe if you don’t stop holding the heavens on your shoulders the cosmos will come crashing down. That’s stupid. God created the earth and sustains it; it worked before you and will work after you die. If you take a break, I promise that you won’t trigger a Mayan apocalypse .

Start seeing rest as worship and not a chore. “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” is given in a context of worship, according to Brueggemann, “Worship is a place in which to enjoy God.” We should be delighted in the fact that we have been freed from Egypt and can rest with God. And this brings me to my last point: Recognize that God will provide everything you need. We all know that God provides for sparrows of the air and lilies of the field, but we live like we must scrounge for every crumb of manna. Jesus offered rest to the burdened and heavy laden, so as you choose classes for fall, ask yourself if your backpack is too big, and then lay your hoard of books at the master’s feet.

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