Have you been wondering why we haven’t been around here much? Well, I have two words for you: student teaching.
If you don’t know what student teaching is like, just picture yourself in a room surrounded by 1st graders all asking questions, wiggling, and ready to tackle the world while you are not only expected to manage them, but to educate them. (Let me tell you, you realize very quickly how little your education classes prepared you for the real world.) On top of that, you’re planning lessons, organizing materials, putting together a portfolio, trying to figure out your future, and writing a lot of reflections… Not to mention watching how much more your mentor teacher does than you and wondering how that is even humanly possible.
(But there are more than enough perks too, I have to mention — like the joy on a student’s face when he can finally read that book or write that sentence or do that math problem, or the infectious enthusiasm of students who are thrilled to just be sorting some rocks for science, or the satisfaction that comes from realizing that you were able to keep the class on task or that the lesson you worked so hard on really helped students to grow. 1st graders are some of the best people on the planet!)
But, long story short, I’ve been busy.
Now, I don’t know what happens to you when you’re busy, but for me, a great internal battle ensues. It happens almost every day. And I have been working for years to make it stop.
Here’s how it looks: I walk in the door, feeling tired and achey and stressed, feeling like all I need is a chance to curl up with a good book. I sit on the couch, pull out the book, and immediately am hit with guilt. Do I really have time to sit and read for a while? Shouldn’t I be washing dishes or doing laundry or planning lessons or curing cancer or something? I stress about it so much that I finally give in and get to work, even if it means that I am even more exhausted the next day.
Or, it happens the other way. I walk in the door, feeling tired and achey and stressed, feeling like all I need is a chance to curl up with a good book. I sit on the couch, pull out the book, and read for hours. Then, still feeling tired, I turn on a TV show or two. I do a little work, but decide to let some other things slide. Again. And the next thing I know, it’s bedtime and almost none of my need-to-dos have gotten done. But I tell myself it’s rest, so that means it was ok.
And the thing is, rest is really important, and laziness is really bad! It’s a fine line, but it means the difference between sin and stewardship with our time and energy. How can we possibly tell the difference?
When I look in the Bible, I see these principles:
1.Rest is intentional.
In the very first week of the world, when God was still teaching the world and us what it means to exist, God set an example for us by resting: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:1-2)
He didn’t need the rest (He’s God!), but He intentionally took the time to rest from His work anyway. The day after, and days and years after that, God was busy taking action on the Earth, but He still showed us the importance of setting aside time for intentional rest.
2. Laziness is usually not intentional.
In verses like Proverbs 13:4 —“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; bBut the soul of the diligent shall be made rich”— we see that when we are lazy, we usually want to do the right thing, in theory. It just feels too hard or too time consuming or just like too much effort to actually getting around to doing it. That’s what makes it laziness.
3. Laziness makes excuses.
In Proverbs 26:13-14, we see another sadly accurate picture of our own laziness. It says, “The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.”
This guy is wanting to stay in his bed so much, that he tells everyone, “Oh, there’s a lion out there or something. It is probably much better for me to just stay here.”
And while I have never invented a lion on the streets, I have been guilty of making wastes of time sudden priorities, claiming that I don’t have time, or even stretching the truth a little about what I will be busy doing instead. Any ‘rest’ that comes from an attitude like that is laziness, plain and simple.
4. Rest is beneficial.
When Jesus was on the Earth, He also gave us an example of the importance of rest. When we might have thought that He needed to be out healing people and preaching the truth, He took intentional time to go away and rest by Himself, talking with His Father. Luke 5:16 says,“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
When I am laying on the couch for lazy reasons, I usually end up feeling guilty, stressed, behind, and sluggish after a while because of the things I am not getting done. But when I take time to intentionally rest, I feel refreshed and energized from it, ready to serve the Lord much better than I could have in my exhausted state.
Jesus also showed us that rest can be a time to grow closer to the Lord and to refocus ourselves on Him. We can use it as a chance to pause from our busy lives and be spiritually refreshed as well. I think of Psalm 46:10, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Taking moments to take a breath, rest, and remind ourselves of that truth is one of the most beneficial things we can do.
When I look at this question this way, the differences between rest and laziness get much clearer. I just need to ask myself if I am resting intentionally, if I am making excuses, and if I truly think this time of rest will benefit me.
What about you? Do you struggle with getting enough rest or with fighting laziness? What verses have helped you to steward your time and energy wisely?