A few weeks back now my washing machine made a major life choice by deciding to become a full time disco dancer. You know, the type of washing machine that likes to get up and boogey with the music up loud every time it hits the spin cycle? Yeah not so fun for everyone nearby.
Being the crafty handyman that I am, I consulted the modern lexicon of appliance repair. YouTube. I worked out quite some time ago that for every mechanical repair, gardening issue or appliance maintenance problem I had, there was always help online. This help often comes in the guise of a clever person who just wants to show the rest of the world exactly how clever they are by making a seven minute instructional video. My video of choice was how to change the shock absorber in my front loading washer. There were two surprises here. First was that front loading washing machines have shock absorbers. Second, I was able to successfully complete the repair in under half a day, including the driving time to purchase parts.
I was quite chuffed with myself.
Several loads of washing later, minus disco dancing, another part of the washing machine ceased to be operational. It was unrelated to my repair job. Fortunately. This time however YouTube was less helpful and now I have washing machine that no longer dances nor washes clothes.
I was less chuffed.
Consequently this week I found myself in a place I haven’t been since my uni days.
Much has changed in the almost twenty years since I have been in a laundromat. For starters, twenty cent coins are irrelevant now, gold coins only. The machines are better and I was able to purchase a long macchiato from the cafe attached.
After drinking my coffee I decided I would take the brave measure of simply watching my clothes spin round and round. Controversial indeed. For thirty six minutes I decided I would do nothing. No checking or responding to email. No messenger. No Facebook. Gasp. What would I do?
What happened next was refreshing. I had a long conversation with someone I had not met before. We talked about powerlifting, Uber, life on the coast, how much we both were looking forward to beach weather and how long we had lived in the area. However, the element of the conversation I enjoyed the most was when we talked about doing nothing.
You see, in this day and age we are reminded over and over again how important it is to be productive and connected. I’ve heard the word connected so often now that the word itself holds little meaning to me. Productivity though, surely that is a good thing right? Maybe. But I’m not here to pass judgement on that. Not today at least.
What interests me is the way we have elevated the notion of productivity to the point where we as a community have limited ability to be still. Getting things done is all the rage. Our days are often assessed by how much we got done and being busy is a badge of honour. But what has actually been produced? How many of the completed tasks actually matter. And if it wasn’t done, would anyone even notice? Would you even care?
What seems to be produced more than anything is weary people. Being productive is tiring. Being busy is even more so. There is an antidote to this though.
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…
We were always meant to work. Work is healthy and good for us. After all Jesus is offering us a yoke and a yoke is an instrument of work. Absence of work is not the answer any more than increasing work load is. There is something else.
It’s called rest.
I don’t think that God intended for humankind to work ourselves into the ground for the entirety of our lives only to find rest in eternity. Nor do I believe that we are to drive our metaphorical cars so hard that we crash at the end of each day. We have grown weary from our lust for productivity. Work has become burdensome.
Throughout my powerlifting career I understood the importance of recovery. I would train hard and then recover for long enough to be able to do it again. Kind of like the way we approach work. I was successful and I achieved much in my chosen sport. I was extremely productive.
What I have come to realise now is that recovery is not rest. Sleeping six to eight hours so you can get up and be productive again is not rest.
Rest is far deeper than this.
The rest that Jesus offers is restoration for our souls.
I still don’t quite understand rest. But I want to. I want to experience deep, abiding rest for my soul. I want to learn from Jesus how to enter this rest and live it.
Fortunately for me, Jesus is a good teacher.
The first lesson. Leave space.
Rest is really hard to do when I am busy being productive.
So back to the laundromat I go.