“Oh, how I love your law! I mediate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)
A testimony. Throughout the course of my career, fifty to sixty-hour weeks in the office were common, and there was no shortage of seasons when seventy, eighty or more hours were necessary to accomplish all that lay before me. As a rule, I did not begrudge these times, for work was enjoyable, proving Solomon’s words true: “That each of them may … find satisfaction in their toil—this is the gift of God.”1 All of my remaining time was zealously guarded and joyfully given to my wife and son.
It was Christmastime one year when I decided to begin keeping a Bible journal: Every morning, I would read a Scripture passage and then write down whatever thoughts came to mind, whatever inspirations stirred my soul and any words of prayer returned in response. So incredibly rich was this time that fifteen morning minutes with God morphed into thirty, forty-five, sixty and sometimes more. I was overjoyed by all I was learning, and amazed to find this—though my workdays shortened in proportion to these moments of meditation, they also became more productive. Moreover, a broadening perspective, a deepening trust and an uplifting calm enriched my vocational experience, all the result of newfound balance and the power of God’s word.
How appropriate that Israel’s king of renowned wisdom, while extolling work-satisfaction as a gift from God, would also caution us against the extremes of toil. “It is in vain,” wrote Solomon, “that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”2 Both enjoying what we do and resting from it are gifts from God. To open one divine present and not the other leaves us incomplete, dissatisfied and exhausted. We were designed to create through discovery, construction and collaboration, yet we were also called to rest from our labor in the presence of God and to proactively love the precious people who journey this life with us. Such is the nature of the eternal God of creation whose image we bear—the God who rests, the One who loves us with an everlasting love.
Stepping by faith into work-life balance, we lose nothing and gain everything.
Father, your wisdom is beyond my understanding and your love knows no boundaries. Draw me into your presence—through prayer and your word—for there you provide strength and there I find rest. Amen.
Christ in me is peace.
1 Ecclesiastes 3:13
2 Psalm 127:2 (ESV)