The Road to Success
“For years I had been the greyhound chasing the rabbit of permanent solutions [at my company]. If I worked just a little harder, a little longer, a little more creatively, I would eventually catch the rabbit. I would experience commercial nirvana, and our business…would run perfectly. But I was wrong. In business you will always have problems.”
Paul Hawken goes on to say that problems in business are really opportunities in disguise. Eventually he realized that every problem a company faces presents a chance to grow—to improve, to do what it does better in some way. That’s a good point, and one we should keep in mind on our Christian journey: Never get bogged down by problems, because each one is an opportunity for greater communion with God, or a higher level of service, or a deeper spiritual experience—or perhaps all three!
But that’s not the point I want to make. Hidden in Hawken’s statement is another message we must remember as we pass through life. It is easy to become so intent on chasing the rabbit that we forget to take time off from the hunt. Whether that rabbit is business success, or church involvement, or taking care of a family, or one I haven’t thought of, we can make the chase—the pursuit—our life’s work to the exclusion of everything else—and that’s dangerous.
I remember when I learned that lesson. My last position before retirement required me to be at work from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Not bad hours, but I frequently found it difficult to tear myself away when the clock and my contract said I could leave. There was always one more task to complete, one more piece of paper to deal with, one more problem to solve, and then I could go home and rest easy.
Then came the heart attack. It wasn’t massive, but it required a stent and a (mercifully) short hospital stay. Within a week I was back at work, but with a difference. From then on, at 3:30, I piled the remaining work in the center of my desk (neatly—I was still OC) and walked out the door. I found that the work was always waiting for me in the morning. No fairy labor force came in and cleared my desk overnight; but I also never fell behind or missed deadlines. Tasks were completed on time, papers were signed, filed—or whatever, problems were solved, sometimes more quickly than if I’d tried to attack them at the end of a busy day.
Whatever our life’s work we need to take time off for rest and recovery. Jesus knew this. That’s why, when his disciples returned from their missionary journey (Mark 6:7-13) he chose to take them on a retreat (Mark 6:30-31). “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place,” he said to them, “and rest awhile.” Although this rest time was shorter than Jesus had intended, he knew they needed some time to themselves—knew this because throughout his ministry he sought out times when he could be alone with his Father.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says. We know we need to do just that—to rest in the Lord, to find time to replenish our strength, both physically and spiritually; but often we are too busy chasing our rabbit of choice to heed Jesus’ words and take advantage of his promise of rest.
Jesus goes on to say that we should accept his yoke. That sounds like more work; but in our hearts we know the truth of his next words: “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light, because they include time for us to get away from the rabbit chases of life and find rest for our bodies and our souls—and that’s a promise!