“To be fully human is to embrace our limits as a gift from God.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 10, 2023
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31, RSV
Though we may live in an age of “machine learning” and automated everything, you and I are not machines. We have limits and tanks that run out, and to ignore this is to work against the way God has made us to live. To be fully human is to embrace our limits as a gift from God.
In the middle of the 20th century, on the heels of World War II, German philosopher Josef Pieper reflected deeply upon what it means to be human in an era of functional existence, where our worth and value as beings is directly tied to the economic value we produce. In his book Leisure: The Basis of Culture, he speaks to the idea of “total work,” noting that “the demands of the working world grow ever more total, grasping ever more completely the whole of human existence.”
In the chaos and exhaustion of our workaholic world, our Lord Jesus offers to each of us an invitation: “Come away and rest a while.” These words are not an invitation to take a break from the “real” work of your life. No, it is an opportunity to discover life as it is meant to be lived. Rest is not optional but is an ever-present reminder that we are dependent creatures, needing to be refreshed and sustained by the goodness of God and the everyday mercies that he has given to us: a slow meal enjoyed with friends, an afternoon nap in the sunshine, or a contemplative hike in the woods.
Are you able to rest without feeling guilty? Or, since there is always something to do – one more email to send, one more load of laundry to fold, one more errand to run – do you cut your time of rest short, or even skip it outright? Remember today the words of our Lord Jesus, who had to remind his own disciples of the value and goodness of refreshing times of rest. Yes, much of our lives are meant to be active, sacrificially serving those around us, yet never lose sight of the closely related and deeply complementary rhythm of intentional and regular rest.
Father, help us to embrace the gift of rest as a daily reminder that we are dependent upon you for life and the energy we need to live faithful lives, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Consider how this idea of “total work” has impacted your own understanding of yourself and your value and place in the world.
Page CXVI: Be Still My Soul
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