Daniel was three and a half years old with an infectious smile and inquisitive nature. He lived with his parents, Michael and Karen, in the apartment directly below me. After gaining his confidence we became friends and although I was some 20 years older than him, Daniel would always take time out of his busy day to say hello and speak to me for a little while. One day I happened to be outside when he rode up to me on his big wheel, a brightly colored plastic tricycle.
“Hi, what’cha doin’?” Daniel said, his standard opening.
“Hey Daniel, I’m cleaning out my car, what are you doing?” I said.
“Riding my big wheel,” he said.
“I see that,” I said. “Are you pretty good on that thing?”
“I’m the best!” Daniel exclaimed with all the unbridled confidence of youth.
I crouched down beside him. “Really…can you do any tricks on it?” I asked. He nodded matter-of-factly.
“What can you do?” I prodded.
Daniel furrowed his brow deep in thought before finally asking, “You see that telephone pole over there?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I can ride up that telephone pole and down the other side,” he said.
“Wow,” I exclaimed raising my eyebrows. “Are you telling me that you can ride your big wheel all the way to the top of that telephone pole and down the other side without falling off?”
“Yep,” he said, “that’s what I’m saying.”
We both stared at the pole for a moment before I spoke. “I would love to see that, Daniel, could you do that for me?”
Daniel got very quiet. He stared intently at the telephone pole and then down at his big wheel. He looked back at the pole and then finally up at me.
“Nah,” he said, “I’m tired of riding up that pole.”
Life is full of obstacles, some of our own making, and like my little friend Daniel, sometimes I just get plain tired of overcoming obstacles. That’s why God set aside a day for us to rest. He knew that we humans would be so busy scurrying around with our little plans and big dreams that we would need to stop and take time out to renew our strength and refresh our spirit. He thought it so important that he made it a commandment for us to rest even as He, himself, did on the seventh day. It’s a lesson that I, the product of a very successful workaholic father, have had a difficult time learning as I struggle to find a balance between work and rest.
The point was driven home to me as I was writing and arranging a piece of music one day. I placed a notation indicating a rest between two notes and realized that if those rests weren’t there, the notes would all run together and the melody would be lost in dissonance.
Hard work is, indeed, a virtue but in the symphony of life the rests are just as critical to purpose and order.
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”