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Rest Before Work

“If I want to take the day off tomorrow, I need to get a lot of work done today” . . .

That is a thought that very often comes to my mind, and one which you can probably relate to.

I am a very driven person, and often find myself measuring my worth, value, and success, by the amount of work I accomplish in a day. I start out my day by writing up a long “To Do” list, and if I don’t see a significant number of items getting crossed off that list, I feel in some way like I haven’t earned the right to rest yet.

Intellectually I know that resting is important and I am often reminded of the fact that God commands us in His Word to rest. When God created the world, after the 6 days of creation He intentionally took the 7th day as a day of rest. Not because God was tired or worn out. . .but because He wanted to set an example for us.

And yet, so many times we take His command and treat it as merely a suggestion. “Rest? For a whole day?! Well. . .okay. . .but only if I can get everything done in time.”

This was a common thought for me. . .”If I can get enough work done first, then I’ll be able to take a day off and take some time to rest.”

More recently, however, I was reading through the account of creation again and found myself puzzled at the end of each paragraph. . .

“And there was evening and there was morning the first day.”  (Gen. 1:5)

“And there was evening and there was morning the second day.”  (Gen. 1:8)

“And there was evening and there was morning the third day.” (Gen. 1:13)

. . . .and on and on it goes, with each consecutive day, the pattern remained the same, when establishing the days God first mentioned the evening and then the morning followed. Evening first. . .then morning.

At first I was confused by this. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “something’s wrong here! Isn’t is supposed to be that there was morning and evening each day? Why does it put the evening first? Our days don’t begin in the evening, our day starts in the morning!”

Well, no, there is no error in the Word of God. I am certain of that. So the error must be in our own way of counting the days.

Could it be that our way of counting the days is wrong? Could it be that we have our priorities completely mixed up?

If God intended our days to begin in the evenings, then the first thing we would be doing in a day is resting and sleeping. Then, after we have rested, then we get up and begin our work.

Rest before work!? What a backwards way of doing things! Or so we are tempted to think. But really, I can almost see God looking down on our stressful lives and exhausted bodies and thinking, “Working before you’ve rested – now THAT’S really backwards!”

This revelation has certainly given me much food for thought.

Wouldn’t I have more productive hours of work if I was well rested before beginning my work?

Wouldn’t I get more done in a day if I wasn’t so tired and worn out?

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to focus and concentrate if my mind were rested?

Wouldn’t my life look more like Mary and less like Martha if I put rest as a higher priority than work?

Wouldn’t I enjoy life so much more if I measured my value and worth in times of resting at Jesus feet, instead of measuring it by the number of items I cross off my “To Do” list?

What a crazy, upside-down, mixed up . . . radical way to live!