This weekend was supposed to be a restful sabbatical for my wife and I. Four times a year, the ministers at our church are given four-day weekends and are told not to do anything related to work. We don’t meet anyone for counseling or discipleship. We don’t do sermon prep. We don’t plan upcoming events. We’re just supposed to relax and recharge.
The day before the sabbatical, I got hit with a cold. I don’t get sick often, so a 101 degree fever was enough to do me in pretty thoroughly. My wife came to the rescue and I spent most of the weekend moping around the house like a wet cat, fiddling with the thermostat, and coughing up the demons that had intertwined snot tumbleweeds throughout my lungs.
I got a very few things done that I wanted to get done. My dad, brother, and I managed to cut lumber for a bookshelf on a day I could cope with, but the project remains unfinished. A stack of very interesting (and no doubt refreshing) books still sits on the coffee table unread. Actually, it’s not a stack anymore. The dog knocked them over with her tail and now it’s just kind of a failed Jenga pile. A fine metaphor for the weekend, I suppose.
But recharged or not, refreshed or not, I still have a job to do. Whether I’m at 100% or not, come Tuesday I need to press in, shoulder first, to the workload with all the Protestant work ethic a non-denominational minister can muster. That’s all anybody can do.
The ideal isn’t always realized. Sometimes you go back into the fray with just one boot on. Life is mostly rough drafts and near misses. I’m learning to be okay with that and the process is slow.
There’s a kind of tired that can come from doing a whole lot of nothing. Sometimes a whole lot of nothing is exactly what you need. Rest. Relaxation. Leisure. That’s all good and very needed. But it’s necessary in the context of work.
Whether you work from home for pay or not, whether you work outside of the home for pay or not, work should make you tired. Life is not all work. But work in life should wear you out rather well.
I used to go to bed tired from binging Netflix or wasting an hour on my phone. Now I go to bed tired because I try to do more better. This, I’m convinced, should be the aim of every man, whatever their capacity and whatever their station in life. I’m still working on it.
The days are just packed. Yes, folks can wear busyness as a badge of honor and that’s regrettable and foolish. But sometimes, the days can just get to you. There’s always another “one more thing” that comes along.
Our sump pump died today. The reasons why are silly and the story is tedious, but it threw my whole day off. I had a list of tasks that I needed to get done at the office and some things that absolutely had to be done at the office and my day started with me bailing dirty water out of the sump basin with an old tupperware container.
I was finally able to get to church by mid-morning and blow through a few hours of work before going back home to meet the plumber (an excellent and knowledgeable master tradesman). I bought a new sump pump, a new check valve, and some PVC pipe at Lowe’s and ran back home. But then, the plumber had to drive back to his shop to get some tools he didn’t have for the job. That’s fine. It happens.
He leaves and I’m working from home again, furiously trying to return phone calls and reschedule missed meetings and fire off e-mails. Then he comes back to work on it and life keeps up its frantic barrage. Time after time, little interruptions pop up beneath my chin. Some of them were welcome and wonderful. Some of them were aggravating. Dozens of those little (and big) needs broke through the lines of my well-ordered schedule.
But that’s okay. I mean, I don’t feel okay about it yet, but at least I know it’s okay. And that will help me feel okay about it sometime soon, I’m sure.
During the onslaught of the urgent today, I caught myself muttering, “Life is full of interruptions.” Then a C.S. Lewis quote came to mind: “What one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life, the life God is sending one day by day.” So sure, I could look back on today and lament the fact that so many things today got in the way of my job or my life or my plans. But if God is sovereign, then there are no such thing as interruptions, right? Life is for me as God gives it. And if he gives to me what look like interruptions?
That’s life. And life is ultimately good.