Genesis 1:17, 18 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
Light and dark are both good, both have their helpful role to play. It would be hard to sleep without the dark, and all of creation has that diurnal rhythm. The earth would not cool off without the dark. The pause is as important to the music as the notes, and the whole solar system conspires to impose the importance of rest, withdrawal, disengagement, and reflection, when doing can no longer posture as the measure of value and character and being become paramount, when faith rather than obedience becomes central.
Humankind has fought this rhythm from the beginning of time, using artificial light to utilize every waking hour both to avoid the haunting questions of the heart that rise up in the quiet and stillness and to gain power to control more of life. Instead of work being a creative outflow of the heart, a heart retuned daily to the rhythms of quiet peace, we turn work into a mechanism to buttress our own sense of security and prestige and independence.
We even tell ourselves that this is God’s will. Those in ministry are often the most driven to long hours of service because they see needs that always exceed their allotted time. The soft voice of the gently falling night is no match for the shouts of obligation that seem to come from God himself. Rest itself, rather than a gift from God, seems a temptation of the devil. The deepest challenges to our faith come when it stands alone, without the supporting role of effort, but it is never truer than in such times. In so many ways, the darkness calls us to live by faith and so expand the heart’s resources to live into each working day in the Spirit.
Father, I have been driven by a sense of obligation most of my life, a sense that there is always more to do for you, that rest only fits into the lazy man’s schedule, that if I am not doing, I am neglecting. Free me from this false guilt. Teach me the joy of resting in a spirit of faith, to leave all things in your hands.