“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”
This thought underpinned many of my summers growing up, even if it wasn’t verbalized.
In my family, we didn’t take vacations. Instead, when school wasn’t in session, my mother figured out alternative ways to keep her eight children busy.
We became familiar with the local library and spent many days becoming acquainted with its choices before we selected what we’d read.
The libraries weren’t as fancy as they are today – with toys for tots and other things to keep our attention. They were bare-boned – stacks of books and a librarian, reinforcing the purpose of our time there.
Summer was also the time to sharpen our life skills. I’m not sure what my brothers did, but I recall one particular summer where my mother taught the girls how to sew.
My mom was a seamstress, and she enjoyed doing this work, so it was her pleasure to pass on some of these skills. She taught my sisters and me how to sew buttons, how to hem, how to stitch a seam, and she did this by teaching us embroidery.
We used the various stitches to design a pillowcase while learning the purpose of each stitch. I felt accomplished when I completed my work of art – two intertwined hearts embroidered on a pillowcase. Those skills have served me well throughout my life and saved me quite a bit of money.
It goes without saying that we had to maintain the completion of our household chores; summer vacation was not a reason to become slovenly.
When we could no longer be productive, and there was nothing else to do, we were either outside playing on the block with other children or inside watching endless amounts of TV.
But the evenings were a time of joy. After dinner, we would sit on the stoop because it was too hot inside. We stood there until fatigue set in. Everyone did this, so every evening seemed like a party.
These are the memories of my summer – productive, learning new skills, with some unstructured fun squeezed in.
When I met my husband, I realized that others thought about rest and vacations differently, so I was open to seeing what the fuss was all about. Early In our marriage, a friend offered to let us use their place in Hilton Head for a week.
His generosity was gratifying, but getting away from the rat race taught me that rest may be a luxury, but it was also a necessity.
On that South Carolina island, I realized I needed to embrace rest for a while before I came apart.
I have always considered rest a luxury, but Jesus knew it was a necessity. He told his disciples to rest for a while, recognizing their need. When God created the Earth, he rested on the 7th day.
The Ten Commandments tell us to observe the Sabbath and to keep it holy. This rest – Sabbath was instituted as a means of restoration and refocusing.
Somehow in our crazy mixed up culture, we equate rest with exotic family vacations, where we set aside money we don’t have, to do things we normally wouldn’t do, hopefully with people we like, who promise to cooperate with our agenda.
We want to have our perfect vacation, but we feel more exhausted at the end of these vacations. We often need a vacation from our vacation!
When Jesus invited his disciples to rest, they were in the midst of a ministry tour – healing and ministering to the needs of others to the point of neglecting their own needs: they needed to eat.
Recognizing this need, he implored them to take some time for themselves (Mark 6:31).
Jesus wants us to rest so that we are better equipped to do what he has called us to do – ministering to others in this hurting world.
The periodic pattern of rest was built in from the beginning as a model for us to follow because even as we do His work, we need to embrace rest so that we don’t come apart.
I’ve reframed my thoughts around rest recognizing the refreshment that rest provides.
Photos by Ank & Lelia Milaya // Reshot