My father sent my twin and me to shorthand-cum-typewriting classes after school in our eighth grade. We became the butt end of jokes in school as our friends thought we were fools to do it.
Enrolled in an institute run by a martinet who gave the worst instruments to the newbies, we had to do twelve lines while other students did only six lines. I remember my left pinkie hurting constantly because the ‘a’ key was stuck hard. We endured torture since no one dared go against my father.
Years later when computers came in, I thanked God for parents who didn’t fool us!
When we travel by road and cross places where repair work is being done, we normally see the sign “CAUTION. MEN AT WORK”, but we never come across a sign that says “TAKE CARE. MEN AT REST”. Probably the only place we can expect to see something similar is at a cemetery, as an epitaph!
In the fast-paced activity-prone, post-modern world of today, rest is probably the most neglected and sidelined aspect of life. The word rest is often confused with vacation, which is time allotted by an employer for an employee to not be present at work.
Vacation is defined as taking a break from regular work or routine to relax. The concept of sabbatical leave, popular in the corporate world, is different from vacation and has come to mean a time period in which a person does not report to regular work. It is being given a chance to step back from regular routine to focus on personal enrichment and professional development.
Since the fall, rather than drawing security from a relationship with God, men’s self-esteem has become tied to their jobs and their achievements in the workplace. Retirement blues are real for men as they find it hard to live a life disassociated from work. They are prone to ill health and sudden heart attacks that often prove to be fatal.
Work is from God, but being addicted to work and receiving affirmation from the performing of it is detrimental in all respects. Work and rest were meant to be a rhythm of life rather than each of them being an obsession or as a means to self-worth!
Two pictures from the Bible come to mind when considering the aspect of rest for men – Christ asleep in the bottom of the boat and Jonah asleep in the bottom of the ship!
In both instances, a storm is blowing and the vessels in danger of sinking. Both men were resting in apparent oblivion, unaware of the mayhem surrounding them. Both were conscious and confident of God’s care and protection over their lives, yet not in the same way or manner.
One was resting in the calm confidence of doing God’s will and the perfect stillness of being in the core of His purposes. The other was resting in the stupor of knowing that he was out of His will and slept on in the uncaring indifference that continued disobedience brings.
When woken up, one rises up to take complete control of the situation, while the other finds the answer in passive acquiescence of guilt. One commands the winds and the waves into obedience, while the other quells the raging squall and seas through self-immolation! One would even die in obedience to the purposes of God, while the other would rather die than obey God!
Both brought deliverance and praise to God, but the manner in which they did it says much about how a man can find and be in true rest in contrast to pseudo-rest that disobedience brings!
Jonah’s stubbornness in not yielding to God and Christ’s willingness to submit to Him perfectly portrays the struggle in attaining rest by a man!
Christ shows the way to true rest and restfulness, both as God and man. While on earth He was never anxious, flustered or worried, so much so He could say ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now, as God and seated on the right hand of the Father, He is waiting patiently for His enemies to become His footstool. Jesus is the perfect example and perfect episode of rest!
The Apostle Paul was also one who walked in this true rest even in the midst of a dangerous storm or when placed in a dungeon. He could encourage his fellow passengers to not despair and sing along with Silas when in a dark place. Daniel and Joseph demonstrate this same rest, even when accused wrongly and thrown into prison.
Scripture declares You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isa 26:3 NIV).
May you our men, fathers, brothers, sons, grandsons as well as mentors and mentees, dwell in the shelter of the Most High so as to find rest in the shadow of the Almighty!