ronniemcbrayer300 maroonKENTUCKY (9/1/13) - The first Labor Day celebration was observed in New York City in 1882. It was not intended to be the official end of summer. It was a movement to honor “the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” A bit more than a decade later, Labor Day became a National Holiday.

Not many years later, it became evident that the American worker was such an exceptional and efficient creature, that work hours would soon be reduced to mere shadows of their former oppression. For example, economist John Mayhard Keynes, in the teeth of the Great Depression, predicted that technological advancements would soon lead to a 15-hour work week.

In the mid-1960s, congressional leaders boldly predicted a two-day work week by the year 2000. That prediction has apparently only rung true for congressional leaders, as the average time workers spend on the job has ballooned over the years to nearly 50 hours per week.

Meanwhile, it is well known that our peers in Europe and other “developed” countries, enjoy bountiful quantities of leisure time (on average putting in 400 fewer annual work hours than Americans), while enjoying equal levels of productivity. Working more hours simply hasn’t translated to greater production or higher levels of satisfaction, and the predictions of “less work more rest,” is a farce for today’s laborers.

And while we mostly recognize the need to protect our health by eating right, staying hydrated, exercising, and the like, Americans are notorious for ignoring the body’s need for intentional times of rest. More so, we ignore our mental, emotional, and spiritual need for rest.

In the book of Genesis, the ancient writer says that on that final day of the first week, God rested. Was God tired? No, God set an example by abstaining from his creative work, and pausing to enjoy it. The word for rest, used in those Genesis accounts, can be translated “to soulify” or “to enhance one’s soul.” More practically it means “to catch one’s breath” or to “renew the spirit.” So when we pause to catch our breath, to renew our spirit, or recharge our souls, it is an imitation of God – it is worship.

Lettie Cowman, a devotional writer from a century ago, illustrates this so well with one of her stories from Africa. She wrote about an Englishman who was exploring the deepest jungles of the continent, traveling like British royalty. He had brought with him fine wines, his favorite foods, tons of books and parchments, furniture and clothing.

He had so much that he had to hire an army of strong men from the local villages to portage all this material through the jungle. On the first day of his grand safari he pushed the laborers at an exhausting, God-forsaken pace. He wanted to cover as much distance as possible, and he did exactly that.

As he lounged in his tent that evening, he concluded that if such a pace could be kept, why, he would see most of the continent, and his journey would be a quick one. But on the second morning, the hired Africans refused to move. They just sat there, and no amount of pleading, cursing, or bribery could make them move.

Finally, one of the young men explained that they were not especially tired. Rather, they had gone too far and too fast on the first day, and they had to “wait for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”

Ms. Cowman concluded her story with these words of reflection (and I remind you, her words are a century old): “This whirling, rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those poor tribesmen. But here is the difference: They knew what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often we do not.”

So on this weekend that marks the official end of summer, don’t simply grill your burgers or down a few beers. Do less. Sit still. Take a nap. It will be an act of worship.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Pennyroyal Herb Club Annual Garden Tour Announced

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (5/23/15) — Tour eight local gardens, featuring butterfly gardens, raised beds, shade gardens,… Read More

Health Department Food Scores Released

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (5/23/15) ― The Hopkins County Health Department recently released the following reports of food… Read More

Most Read This Week

May 22, 2015 6490

Madisonville Man Charged with First-Degree Rape

by SurfKY News
May 19, 2015 5829

Owensboro Health Proposes Building $15M Health…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 5329

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 18, 2015 4243

Madisonville Man Wanted for Attempted Murder in…

by SurfKY News
May 19, 2015 3830

Two Charged with Marijuana Possession after…

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

May 15, 2015 10466

New Madisonville Business In Full Operation Soon

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 15, 2015 7402

Investigation of Local Barber Shop Leads to Drug…

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 23, 2015 5329

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 22, 2015 1190

MPD Seeks Three in Residential Robbery

by SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 1128

Elks BBQ Fundraiser Quick Sell Out

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 789

Health Department Food Scores Released

by SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 636

Scientists Meet in Louisville to Share Research…

by Betty Coffman
May 23, 2015 596

Happenings, Meetings Listed for Following Week

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 565

'Cooking for the Cure' Fundraiser Brings Out…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 24, 2015 537

MCC's Felicia Johnson Receives State KCTCS Award

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 506

Sunday Alcohol Sales Discussion Tabled to Next…

by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 494

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet…

by Ricki C. Gardenhire