I did a double-take when I first read the title, The Radical Pursuit of Rest—isn’t “pursuit” the opposite of “rest”? Author John Koessler definitely sparked my interest, and his subtitle added to the intrigue: Escaping the Productivity Trap.
In his introduction, Koessler says that while his book contains practical suggestions on how we might pursue rest, it’s not a “how-to” book. Instead he says, “The secret to rest is not in what we do so much as in how we see” (page 16).
So we might say instead of a how-to book, this is a how-to-see-it book—how to see our rest grounded in the work and rest of God, how to recognize false rest, how rest contrasts with ambition, how Scripture gives us a glimpse of our final rest.
For the last few weeks my blog articles have focused on the how-tos of self-care for heart, soul, mind, and strength. Now I’d like to give away a copy of this book on rest, which forms some of the background to how I understand self-care.
Keep reading for some of my favourite quotes from the book—and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing to fall asleep in church!
The Culture of Productivity in the Church
If attendance has grown, it should increase further. If programs have expanded, they must expand even more. Every year the church rolls out new initiatives the way automobile companies roll out new models. Like the latest-model car, the latest project needs to be more impressive than the last. The church is driven by the bottom line just as much as a company whose lifeblood is sales revenue. Only in the church’s case the bottom line is measured primarily in people and what they do. (page 19)
What the church needs is rest. But it is a special kind of rest. We need the rest that only Christ can provide. (page 22)
Rest is trust
We lie down and close our eyes in sleep because we believe that the world will get along fine without us for a time. God will take care of us and the world during our slumber. As the Psalmist declares, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me” (Ps 3:5). (page 44)
Rest is a person
To fully grasp the biblical idea of rest we must look beyond the Sabbath day and Sabbath discipline. Both point to something else. Rest is ultimately a person. When Jesus invites us to come to him, he invites us to enter his kingdom of rest. (page 62)
Worship as a kind of rest
Not long ago a colleague invited me to visit her church. Her church’s worship style is liturgical and she thought I would appreciate the change. “I think you would really like it,” she said with enthusiasm. “I could tell that it was a good church the first time I attended because I fell asleep during the service!”
. . . I don’t know of anyone else who would say that the true measure of a good service is that it puts you to sleep. But maybe she is on to something. The biblical institution of the Sabbath in all its forms clearly establishes a theological connection between corporate worship and rest. (page 111)
Rest in solitude and silence
Solitude and silence are countermeasures for a world that tries to persuade us that our worth is measured by our usefulness. These experiences remind us that we have intrinsic value to God. We do not have to produce to be loved and accepted by him. Indeed, our capacity to produce and the things that are produced by us are all gifts of grace. (page 124)
Rest is not the absence of fear
Rest is not the absence of fear; it is the presence of trust. The radical pursuit of rest has not eliminated my fear about the future. It has taught me to counter those fears by referring them to God who has control over all things. He is the Lord of the past as well as the future. (page 133)
Writing/Reflection Prompt: Respond to one of the quotes listed above from The Radical Pursuit of Rest.
Thank you to all those who entered for a chance to win a free copy of this book. The draw is now closed and the winner has been notified.
Disclosure: Thank you to InterVarsity Press for providing me with a complimentary copy. As always, the choice to review and my opinions are my own.
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24 thoughts on “Enter to Win a Free Copy of The Radical Pursuit of Rest”
It seems paradoxical to me that “rest” should become a radical pursuit, but this title really captures our lack of sabbath practices. This book sounds like the necessary reset that most of us struggle to consider.
Yes, the title captures our lack of sabbath practices and points us toward rest instead of chasing after greater productivity. That’s the re-orientation the author says is so needed by the church and by all of us.
Hi April, this sounds like a good companion to your work!
Yes, definitely, especially as I’ve been writing and leading sessions on self-care, it’s been important for me to see self-care as grounded in the work and rest of God.
Come unto me and I will give you rest. I have heard this so often, but hadn’t thought about it in the frame of trust. Come to me, trust in me, leave your cares with me, and you will find the rest that only I can give. Why have I missed this aspect of God’s grace in the form of rest and trust?
I think one of the reasons we often miss this is what John Koessler calls “the productivity trap,” where we get so caught up in doing things to the point of depending on our own efforts. Instead of relying on ourselves, we need to re-learn rest and trust in God.
I love these radical thoughts about rest! The one that I can especially relate to is the rest to be found in solitude and silence. It really is a gift like none other because it draws us closer to the heart of God as we become more receptive to His voice. Thanks for sharing snippets from this book. It sounds like a great resource for us all. ❤
Thank you for dropping by, Joy, and for your example of resting in God. I love the author’s description of solitude and silence as “countermeasures” to what he describes as “the productivity trap” of the world. And as you mention, the rest found in solitude and silence is a beautiful gift.
“Rest is … Jesus”
I like that. I bring my feelings to him each day.
“We do not have to produce to be loved and accepted by him.”
This is a good reminder of God’s unconditional LOVE.
What a beautiful kingdom of rest, Louise!
April, your posts on self-care have been a balm to my soul as I continue to plod through recovery. And I’m especially drawn to the quote about falling asleep in worship. 🙂 Thanks for this post and the opportunity to enter to win a copy of this book. Sounds like a great resource both for the individual and the church.
I’m glad to hear from you, Sherrey, and pray for your continued recovery. As you point out, this is a helpful book for both individuals and churches, and includes helpful questions for both.
The other day, after a rather busy time I put my deck chair in the garden and just lay back, looking up at the branches of the maple tree above me. I heard some birds chirping and it just felt very peaceful. My whole body relaxed and I was at rest.
Thank you for sharing, Elfrieda – I can feel myself relaxing just imagining the scene!
Thanks for sharing the snippets from the book. I remember requesting the song written by Harris Loewen, or others in the musical group back in the early 1970s, “Come unto me if you are weak and laden….I’ll give you rest.” It was for my son’s Derek’s memorial service. His sudden death created all kinds of anxiety and this verse comforted me…reassuring me that I could trust, not fear and rest in the palm of God’s hands. This book seems to send that affirming message about rest as well, and that there are times in our lives where we are just to be and not do. I like the comparison to “having eyes to see, not just ears to hear.”
Yes, we rest in God, even in times of anxiety and fear, and I appreciate your sharing such a reassuring example of that from Derek’s memorial. It expresses so well what the author says about rest not being the absence of fear, but the presence of trust.
Such an important topic in this day and age. Thanks April for bringing it to our attention. I think the church has forgotten what rest really means. Good reminder.
Yes, it seems that individuals, families, and the church all need this message. I think the author does an especially good job in describing the church and the productivity trap.
Restful…Rest Full…Full of Rest… Perhaps the Fullness of God (who rested) has a connection to being Restful.
There’s a paradox too since while God rests, God is also at work, and John Koessler explores that as well in his book.
The pursuit of rest contradicts everything that society screams at us, so these points are both paradoxical and inspiring. I love the idea that falling asleep in church could actually be a good thing!
Now that I’m at a deliberately liturgical church, I especially love the way that idea came from the author’s colleague at a liturgical church. I’ve never come close to falling asleep during worship, but I do find it restful in the best sense of the word!
Rest must be the opposite of rush. Even as a retired person my task oriented personality keeps telling me to rush to “get all these things done,” I need to go back and linger over your self care blogs. But this sounds like a great book.
I love to be active and get things done too, but I also sense a difference between acting out of a deep sense of abiding in Christ and acting in a spirit of hurry, i.e., acting out of rest or rush. I’m still learning to discern between the two.