by Joel Comiskey
I overworked one spring to the point of exhaustion. I didn’t faithfully keep my day off, didn’t take care of my body, and eventually caught bronchitis. I had a teaching commitment at the time that I couldn’t cancel. I remember the sleepless nights wheezing and coughing, knowing that I had to teach the next day. As I look back at those exhausting days, I now realize that I tried to cram way too much work into a limited time period and ended up imbalanced.
God made the human body to run effectively for only six days out of the week—not seven. Genesis 2:2–3 declares, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
I don’t believe that we need to rest on one specific day (e.g., Saturday or Sunday). Pastors, for example, are busiest on Sundays, and have a hard time resting on that day. Whatever day you choose, the goal is to truly rest on that day.
Your 24-hour day of rest should not have a lot of rules and regulations (e.g., can’t do this, can’t do that, etc.). You will need to do some work, for example, to survive—like washing the dishes and taking out the trash. But as much as possible try to avoid the regular, job-related work that you do the other six days of the week. Leviticus 23:7–8 says, “On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.” The emphasis is on “regular work.” On your day off you should cease to do those things that are part of your normal work load. Give yourself a break and do only those things that help you relax and feel refreshed.
On my day off, for example, I try to avoid anything and everything that sounds like normal work. I only read books that are non-work related. I don’t check my email on my day off, and as a family we don’t answer the phone. My wife and I have both agreed not to talk about stressful, work-related topics between ourselves on our day off. I want to rest my mind—not engage it with the problems and stresses of the other six days. I do sleep a lot, take walks, and enjoy family, food, and anything that is restful.
Remember that after six days, we just naturally run out of gas. If we go against God’s norms, we’ll eventually pay a costly price. I don’t believe any of us are so indispensable that we can neglect our own bodies and souls by not taking a day off.