And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. Genesis 2:2
Do you feel productive today? Will you reach the end of the checklist? Will you finish up the week with all your tasks completed, your existence justified? I don’t know about you, but these kinds of questions haunt me most days. They come unbidden, a nagging sense of uneasiness amid an otherwise beautiful day. On some level, I feel like I need to earn the sunshine.
I remember when I got my first real job. I worked as a bank teller. After some months at work, I remember feeling surprised and frustrated that I still did not feel justified. I now had well-defined tasks to accomplish each day, and most days I did well. Yet, something was missing. I needed more: A feeling that my life was productive enough to justify my existence.
Now, almost ten years later, I have become more comfortable with the fact that my life is unjustifiable. I can’t repay the fact of my existence. Nobody can. No amount of work, earnings, accomplishments, or merit can possibly justify the simple gift of life.
I still find it hard to rest, though. Deep down, a part of me believes that I can earn my daily bread, rather than receiving it as a gift from God. It is a challenge to surrender to the gift, to truly accept that God has created me out of love and creativity, not to get a return on investment. It is mind-boggling to me that my life, my world, this universe exists for the sake of love, not outcomes.
Even God takes a break sometimes. We read in Scripture that God rested on the seventh day of creation, and he taught our ancestors to observe the Sabbath. Traditionally, rest has been central to our faith as Jews and Christians. God doesn’t simply allow us to take a day off for rest each week, he commands it. Yet for many of us in 21st-century Western society, rest is the one luxury we do not permit ourselves.
Does this ring true for you? Do you notice the urge to justify your own existence? To prove that you matter? To demonstrate that you are a productive member of your family, workplace, society? What would it be like to surrender to God’s sabbath rest? How would it feel to accept that our accomplishments – or lack thereof – do not define us?