It’s summertime, and that means, for students at least, free time, relaxation, and vacation. You, parents, will hopefully find time for leisure and relaxation this summer, too. One of the best things about a vocation in a school setting is the rhythm of work and rest, school and break, on duty and off duty – not just day-by-day, but season by season.
I hope you will make the most of your summer vacation, Providence parents. Of course, relaxing is hard for some of us, and how we approach leisure can be a tangled mess in our minds. We live in a culture of workaholics, obsessive hobbyists, and untold distractions. Yet rest is a gift of God’s grace. Have you ever considered that the very first day the first man and woman spent on earth was the 7th day – a day of Sabbath rest? Humanity joined God in a day of rest before ever doing any work. Rest is fundamental to our make-up as humans made in God’s image.
We need to get a handle on leisure. Which means we need to “rethink relaxing.” And that is just what I did recently when I read a 2016 interview between Tony Reinke, from Desiring God Ministries, and author Paul Heintzman, who wrote Leisure and Spirituality: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives. Please take a moment and read this interview! It is not only fascinating – it is enlightening and spiritually profitable.
Here is a brief preview, but I urge you to go read the whole interview. I’ve not read Heintzman’s book, but it will make it onto my stack, without a doubt.
Although Jesus did not have the technological devices we have he often withdrew from the crowds for a period of time, just like Christians throughout the ages have gone on retreats. Research studies have shown that being away from one’s everyday tasks and responsibilities, as well as being away from information technology, is beneficial to spiritual well-being.
The Septuagint (ancient Greek) version of Psalm 46:10 states, “Have leisure and know that I am God.” The Hebrew word translated “leisure” here means to let go. In the face of natural and political catastrophes recorded in this psalm, the psalmist can be at peace and rest in God. Pieper wrote that “leisure is a receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude, and it is not only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the whole of creation.” When we develop this receptive attitude as suggested by Psalm 46:10 we will grow in our knowledge and experience of God. In Hebrew grammar the emphasis is on the second coordinate imperative (“know” rather than “have leisure”). Thus the goal of having leisure is to know God. A leisure attitude as described by Pieper makes it possible to enjoy God more. Indirectly, leisure activities that cultivate this leisure attitude facilitate our enjoyment of God.
Enjoy your rest this summer, friends!