This week's guest blog for Labor Day is by Danine Gruber. We met at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference earlier this year. Her quiet spirit produces powerful words that she weaves into morsels of encouragement for her readers. I am honored to share her blog with you today. May you labor unto the Lord and rest in His provision.
Labor and Ordered Rest
We celebrate a day recognizing the efforts of those before us, coming together as one for their country at large. Their skills were being poured out 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with minimal compensation and often, in the worst of conditions. An uprising occurred; strikes were held to bring about fair working conditions for the American people. Work may be necessary but its counterpart, rest, was as well. In 1882, the president declared the first Monday of September as a National holiday to commemorate the efforts of man and their need for rest.
I had to look up its origination, for like most Americans, I tended to think of it as a day to enjoy picnics and family time. The idea of rest, true rest and the need for it sails out the window in our cultures’ efforts to unceasingly gain or store up “more _____”. This day should cause us to recall why such a day was thought necessary to be instituted in the first place. It reminds us how our forefathers considered rejuvenation critical to the safety, productivity and overall health of the workforce.
I delved further into the history and found conflicting opinions as to which man brought the need for rest into focus. It was either McGuire, a labor board co-founder or Maguire, the machinist.
In reality, the ideas of fair labor and rest came not from a man but from God. Genesis 1 tells us in the beginning, He performed the precious work of creation in 6 days and rested on the seventh. Did he get tired? I think not. Isaiah 40:28 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable” (NKJV). Rest was a framework that He set forth for us to follow.
God told the Israelites in Exodus to institute one day every week, called the Sabbath, for rest and restoration. Once every 50th year, they set aside an entire year called the Year of Jubilee. The land, animals and people would be gifted with the chance to recover and rejuvenate (Leviticus 25:1-13). Debts would be cancelled, workers would be freed to go and return to their families and even the land was returned to its original owners.
Yet, the greatest rest and greatest work existing outside of Creation can be found in Hebrews 4, and in Revelation. I’m referring to the finished work of the Cross. Jesus made the way to have full relationship with the Father, eternal rest and freedom to walk unhindered. That’s what we share, celebrate, and rest in every day!
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.