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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