Today is a rest day. I think that many people assume that rest days are spent in bed. Or perhaps with my feet up watching mindless TV or snoozing on the sofa. Or perhaps getting a massage to relax my weary muscles. Or perhaps spending hours in a bath. But the reality is far from the image of laying back while minions fan me with big feather fans and bring me food on silver platters. In fact my rest days don’t see very much rest at all.
Most of my rest day is spent doing the banking from the past week. I have been given money along the path as well as items being sent to me, and these have to be banked and sorted and it takes longer than you may think! Then I have to catch up on the blogs – I get behind when I don’t have access to the internet or if I am taking an evening meeting. Strangely enough after walking all day and then speaking in the evening, I don’t much feel like sitting down to write a blog. In fact I don’t much feel like anything, except perhaps sleep.
I also have to sort out the logistics of the coming week. Contacting folk I am about to stay with, making sure I have copies of all the maps and directions needed for the next few days, and finalising details of stops, meetings and people joining me to walk. So all in all, after all that is done, there is very little of my rest day left.
I am not saying this so that people will feel sorry for me (after all as I am constantly being reminded it was me that chose to do this!), or so that people will stop assuming that I am lazy and could have finished the walk by now if I wasn’t taking so much time out (yes someone actually told me that real walkers don’t take rest days!! Luckily I didn’t have the energy to respond in a way I thought most appropriate!). I am instead saying this to look at how we use our rest days, our Sabbath, our days off from the world of work. Because as much as I am not resting in the sleeping sense of the word, I am still resting from walking.
Rest days in our normal life (because this past 6 weeks has been anything but normal!) are also not just for sleeping, lazing about and being fed grapes by adoring slaves. They are an opportunity to just rest in the arms of God, like when you really let yourself go in a hug. There has been all this tension and pressure and you didn’t even realise it, then the right person comes along and gives you a hug. At first it is a nice embrace and then you feel yourself relax into the hug and the tension ebbs away. You really commit to the physical contact and the other person supports you as you find, albeit for a moment, real rest. That is how I picture the Sabbath.
It doesn’t happen immediately and we need to invest time in order to get the most out of a Sabbath God hug – in the same way that rest doesn’t come from every hug, but only with those people in whom we have shared our lives and who we are. A hug from a stranger doesn’t bring the rest and comfort that a hug from a parent does. But when we give in to our worldly weariness and collapse into the arms of God, then we will find rest, recuperation, rejuvenation and an energy to continue.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40: 28-31
So here is to rest and strength and energy from a Sabbath God hug, and here’s to walking and not fainting until the next rest day!