By Kelly Carr, Editor
Labor Day is a big weekend here in Cincinnati. There’s a huge fireworks show on the river tonight. What started years ago as a radio station promotional event has turned into an annual celebration for people in the area—one last big summer hurrah as the seasons begin to shift.
For kids, Labor Day used to signify that summer break was officially over and a new school year was beginning. It was not something to celebrate. But now many school districts are starting earlier and earlier in August, so Labor Day is the first day off school in a semester.
When you work year-round, Labor Day is definitely something to anticipate—a day off the job is a blessing, indeed.
My knowledge about the exact creation of Labor Day was hazy, so I decided to look up a refresher. The U.S. Department of Labor declares on its website that Labor Day “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
How nice! I’m thankful that the government created a day off in gratitude to the hard work and dedication of its citizens.
Apparently on September 5, 1882, the Central Labor Union in New York City created a holiday and held a picnic for its members. Over the years it kept its annual day of rest and urged other organizations to do the same. The movement spread, and entire states began adopting the day off until Congress made it a legal holiday for the whole country in 1894.
Would you consider yourself a person who is more tempted to work too much or rest too much? For many people I know, Labor Day and other holidays are much-needed times to rest and take a break from stress.
Just like the topic of worry that we discussed last week, stress can be an issue that builds up and wrecks our health. It can be a habit we develop and don’t give over to God.
As we read in Genesis, even God took a day off from his work, and he didn’t necessarily “need” it. Just as with Jesus getting baptized, some things God does, not because he needs it, but because we need to see his example set for us. (What a nice Dad!) God made us, and he knows our weaknesses.
Our bodies need regular sleep to function. Land needs an occasional break from use to maintain fruitful soil. From all the research that’s been done, it appears that most all animal species have some form of rest cycles as well. It’s as if God built in deep breaths of fresh air for all of his creation to experience.
Have you taken a deep breath lately? Sometimes in our culture we are made to feel guilty for slowing down. Yet we see a host of negatives that occur in our physical and mental health when we endure too much stress. It’s good to work hard, but it’s also biblically demonstrated, even mandated, for us to rest hard.
Feeling stressed? Then sit and do nothing for a bit. Or get up and walk around slowly. Look at God’s creation and spend time praising him for what he’s made and how he’s made us. God designed rest for us, so let’s enjoy his gift.
Rest is a spiritual act of worship. So go ahead—close your eyes and breathe deeply.