3 Rhythms of Counterintuitively Productive Rest

redeeming your time Oct 18, 2021

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

In the mid-1800s, Americans fled to the West in droves in search of gold and a better life. But according to The Emigrant’s Guide to California published in 1849, it was the gold-rushers who rested most—specifically by observing the Sabbath—that reached their destination the quickest. As the guide shares, Those who [laid] by on the Sabbath, resting themselves and their teams,” reached gold country “20 days sooner than those who traveled seven days a week.”

The gold rushers’ example illustrates a fascinating paradox: Oftentimes rest is the most productive thing we can do. 

And not just Sabbath rest! As the scientific community now understands, bi-hourly breaks throughout the workday and an eight-hour “sleep opportunity” every night are essential to doing our most exceptional work.

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus embodying these three rhythms of productive rest. He offered restorative breaks to his disciples as they worked (Mark 6:30-32), he fought for sleep (Mark 4:38), and he reaffirmed the goodness of Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

Of course, because he is our creator, Jesus knew what centuries of scientific exploration have now empirically proven: That these rhythms of rest are productive as we strive towards our goals. But Jesus also undoubtedly knew something science may never be able to prove: That rest is also productive for our souls.

Taking breaks throughout your workday reminds you that God doesn’t need you to finish your to-do list. Getting a full night’s sleep reminds you that God is the only being who neither slumbers nor sleeps and thus doesn’t need you or me to keep the world spinning. Sabbath reminds you that, in the words of N.T. Wright, “all time belongs to God and stands under the renewing lordship of Jesus Christ.” 

These truths bring us to the sixth principle we need for redeeming our time:

Principle #6
To redeem our time in the model of our Redeemer, we must embrace the God-designed rhythms of rest which are counterintuitively productive for our goals and our souls.

How practically do we incorporate these bi-hourly, nightly, and weekly rhythms of rest into our modern lives? I answer that question at length in my book, Redeeming Your TimeIf you want a preview, watch this short video which documents what Sabbath looks like for me and my young family.


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