Summary: A short talk for the start of the busy Advent season. This talk uses one of may favourite stories to encourage people to rest, stop, slow down in the midst of a busy time to rest.

Jesus said, “Come with me … to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

One of my favourite stories is about the world wood chopping competition. Now the champion was a bit older than he used to be – well, who isn’t – but he was still the champion. Everyone knew there would come a day when he would have to retire but he was showing no signs of losing his effectiveness or his skills at chopping wood in record time. However, one day, a new would-be challenger decided to challenge the champion. He said to the champion, “Let’s see who can chop the most wood in one day. Let’s chop wood from sunrise until sunset and at the end of the day the one who has chopped the most wood will be the winner.” The champion looked at the young, strong, eager challenger and said, “OK. Let’s do it.” The challenger looked at the muscly, grey haired, ageing champion and thought, “Aha! I think I’m going to win this one.”

So, the challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break; whereas our champion had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At one point he even made a cup of tea for the challenger and said, “Why don’t you stop for 5 minutes and we can drink tea together.” The challenger replied, “Don’t be silly! I’m chopping wood and you’re not. I want to win!

Well, at the end of the day – at sunset - the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the ageing champion had chopped far more wood than he had. "I just don't get it," he said. "Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did." The winner looked at him with a warm, genuine smile of friendship and said, “When I was sitting down to rest, did you not notice that whilst I was resting I was sharpening my axe.”

Is your axe sharp? Or is it blunt and worn-out?

As an adult Jesus was busy. Jesus was very busy; yet he would say this to his friends: “Come with me … to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

Can I encourage you during Advent, in the build-up to Christmas to be restored – to sharpen your axe?

Jesus is on His way. He’s coming! Sharpen your axe!

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