Summary: This message looks at the type of rest that Jesus promises and who it was promised to.
Pinky Swear, rest
Sometimes you hear people talk about how hard they work and how tired they are. But in 2018 in North America, I’m not sure that we have that completely in perspective. And I understand that there are different types of work and different types of tired.
I was in a meeting with a group of ministers one day and one of them said that pastoring a church was really hard work. And then, he said, and I quote “Pastoring a church is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
And I snickered, I didn’t mean to, it just came out. And he turned and glared at me and demanded: “Don’t you think pastoring is really hard work?” And I asked him, “Have you ever really worked for a living?”
I wasn’t trying to be funny. The summer I was fourteen I worked for a farmer, haying. Have you ever hayed? I spent my days in the sun pitched 60 lb bales of hay unto to a moving wagon.
The year between high school and college I spent fishing on 132-foot herring seiner, have you ever seen 200 tons of fish at one time? Have you ever spent a night getting 200 tons of herring from the Atlantic Ocean into your holds and then spent the next day getting the 200 tons of fish out of your holds into the fish plant, and then get a few hours’ sleep and start all over again?
Nope, pastoring is not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
And maybe it’s because I love what I do, most of the time. Years ago, I read the phrase, “Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” And while it’s well-meaning, there are still days that I’m exhausted at the end of the day just from dealing with people and their problems and administrative stuff.
Thirty years ago, I was speaking to the students at Kingswood University in Sussex NB, which is one of the schools where Wesleyan pastors are trained. And the day before I had performed a funeral at our church, not a particularly hard funeral but still it was for a man who I respected and liked, and his family was grieving.
And I told the students at Kingswood that day that in the ministry they would spend 15% of their time doing what they loved and 15% doing what they hated and the other 70% would be just doing stuff that needed to be done. I’ve had pastors tell me that they were attending Kingswood at the time and how they’ve always remembered that.
I never have the heart to tell them that like most statistics, that one was made up.
But most of us will spend our lives working. And it is a necessity, regardless of whether you are a subsistence farmer in West Africa or a Software Engineer in Nova Scotia, or a stay at home mom, work is work.
And it’s not always fun and it’s not always rewarding. I remember telling someone once when they were complaining about their job, “That’s why they call it work and not play.”
There was a time, not that long ago in our country and in our culture that work wasn’t something that you needed to find fulfilment in, it was what you did to earn a living and it was what you did to take care of your family, it was work.
And there is a lot that has been said about work, Thomas A. Edison said: “There is no substitute for hard work.” Or maybe it was Nikola Tesla who said that.
Stephen King wrote, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
And it was Alex Rodriguez who observed: “Enjoy your sweat because hard work doesn't guarantee success, but without it you don't have a chance.”
But we don’t have to rely on motivational books for those sentiments, the bible talks about work in various places.
It goes clear back to creation when we are told that it was “work” for God to create everything. Genesis 2:1-2 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.
The book of Proverbs speaks extensively about the benefits of hard work, here are some samples, Proverbs 12:24 Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. , Proverbs 14:23 Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! And Proverbs 21:25 Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.
And the author of Ecclesiastes wrote Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world. Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy. So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labour are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.