How to Have an Excellent Day of Rest

We talk a lot in contemporary Christian culture about rest – about taking one day out of seven to cease from our work.

But our focus tends to be on the quantity of our rest time rather than the quality.

We think that we’ll be refreshed just because we don’t go to the office or because we don’t check our email for a 24-hour period.

But excellent leisure is about more than what we cease from. It’s about what we are partaking in. It is a very active process in its own way.

And we limit the enjoyment we have – and the glory that God can receive – when we don’t rest well.

Potential Areas of Excellent Rest

In Redeeming the Time, Leland Ryken mentions some specific areas to consider in our leisure.

– Socialization and cultivating relationships
– Exercising dominion over creation by enjoying nature
– Enjoying our God-given capacity for beauty through music and the arts.
– Stewarding our physical bodies
– Developing our minds and imaginations

These are just categories to think about – the key is not what we do but how we do it.

Marks of Excellent Rest

Excellent leisure is something we do because we make a free choice to do something that we enjoy. We engage in an activity for sheer pleasure.

But, as Ryken points out, our tendency is to be utilitarian and to work even in our rest pursuits.

We practice our golf swings, we slave away at the gym, we try to get caught up on work reading, we network with our career contacts – and all of that is great if it’s something you do simply for the enjoyment of the activity. But it’s too easy to let this become just another form of work.

Another quality of excellent rest is it is infused and surrounded with gratitude and praise towards God.

Through enjoying the beauty around us, the thrill of playing tennis, the fellowship of a conversation, or the engagement of our mind in reading, we are led to thank and celebrate the God who gives us such gifts.

Ways to Find Excellent Leisure Pursuits

It’s tempting to turn this post into a top ten list of activities you can engage in to have excellent rest: read a book, go to coffee with a friend, etc.

But then it would just turn into another checklist of ways you can work at your leisure. It would be just another source of guilt and frustration that leaves you unrefreshed.

Yet at the same time, excellent leisure doesn’t just happen spontaneously. Without some sort of effort, a day off will degrade into “picking the low hanging fruit” and just sitting in front of the TV.

So rather than a list of activities to do, here are some principles and steps that you can take to make your rest time excellent in its own way.

First, fall in love with the idea of having excellent rest for its own purpose. Get excited about having fun, exploring the various capacities that God has given you, and bringing him glory in the process.

Second, set the table for a variety of leisure pursuits that interest you. Buy that book you’ve wanted to read, grab that opera DVD, and make sure your bike is all setup and ready to go.

This gives you some options, allowing your rest to be engaged and yet as spontaneous and free as possible.

Third, experiment and have fun.

Enjoy the process of trying new things and experimenting, rather than simply viewing this process as a means. Your goal isn’t to hurry and find the leisure pursuits you like as quickly as possible – instead, enjoy the journey of discovery.

What are some ways you’ve found to have excellent rest time?

Photo Credit: magdalena (Creative Commons)

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