Last week I began a series entitled Lessons Learned. 2020 has been such a difficult year in so many respects, but there have also been plenty of lesson-learning opportunities along the way as well. Last week we looked at the importance of being grateful; this week, we move on to another lesson — the importance of slowing down.
Many of us were forced to slow down back in the spring during the COVID-related lockdowns across the country. Of course, we acknowledge that there were plenty of frontline workers who never slowed down: police officers, first responders, nurses, doctors, hospital employees…and we are so thankful for the ways they have tirelessly continued to serve our communities. But for many of us who do not work in those fields, that time of lockdown was both unexpected and unwanted.
And yet, for many of us, lockdown was a reminder to slow down. I’ve heard from many people — members of my church, close friends, family members — who mentioned that the quarantine exposed a sense of busyness and a pace of life that had become simply unsustainable. It gave most of us a little more quiet time, more time at home, and more time with our loved ones, all of which were unexpected blessings.
2020 forced many of us to slow down and rest.
These ideas are deeply embedded in the Bible, going all the way back to the creation story.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.Genesis 2:2-3
There is something blessed — even holy — about the way “rest” is discussed in God’s Word. In the second chapter of the Bible, God takes a break from all His creative work. The Creator of time takes time to rest, to sit back and enjoy His good creation. God willfully disengages from work, saying, “That’s enough. This is good. I’m finished.” And He willfully engages in rest.
What do we do with this image of a God who takes time to rest?
Well, I’m not sure we do much at all with that image. It seems to me that we don’t take it as much of an example to be followed — despite the fact that just a few verses earlier, we’re told that we are made in the very image and likeness of God. No, American life tends to operate at a pace that even God doesn’t keep. We run ourselves ragged as we rush from activity to activity. Our culture typically idolizes work and productivity and 24/7 busyness.
And yet, deep down we know that something is off.
That we weren’t made to keep up this pace.
That we need rest.
Children’s Hospital of Atlanta recently received an incredible donation from Arthur Blank. Blank is the co-founder of Home Depot and the owner of the Atlanta Falcons. Over the years, he’s made several contributions to Children’s Hospital — but this most recent one was the largest in the hospital’s history. Through his charitable foundation, Blank donated $200 million toward the construction of a new 1.5 million-square-foot pediatric hospital — which will be named the Arthur M. Blank Hospital. Construction has already begun and the hospital is set to open in 2025.
In conjunction with this generous donation, Children’s Hospital will be gifting each of it’s 11,000 employees with an additional 40 hours of PTO — paid time off — to go along with a standard cost-of-living raise for next year. Blank’s generosity freed up the hospital to recognize the exhaustion of not only their physicians and doctors, but also patient care technicians and employees working in food services, environmental services, and transportation. The hospital’s Chief Administrative Officer says, “The COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of strain on our employees, both financially and emotionally.” The PTO gift is an effort to encourage the Children’s staff to slow down and find some much needed rest.
This is what we do with the image of a God who takes time to rest.