Words of Encouragement
from Fr. Peter Speropulos
October 12, 2020
The fantastic turn of the century journalist, apologist, and Christian thinker and writer G.K. Chesterton’s life was full of eccentricity. He was the epitome of the slovenly, absent-minded professor. He notoriously wore his shoes with the price tag left on and often forgot to actually tie his tie around his neck. He would scribble his ideas down on any paper he could find: napkins, wallpaper, the margins of the post, and he would do so whenever and wherever those ideas came to him, oblivious to the world around him, even if he was standing in the middle of London traffic. Once he sent his wife a telegram: AM AT MARKET HARBOROUGH. WHERE OUGHT I TO BE? She telegraphed back: HOME.
Chesterton often would host lively salons and invite fecund thinkers to discuss the issues of the day. As the evening wore on, he would inevitably disappear only to turn up again in his pajamas and announce that everyone was invited to remain, but the time had come for all godly people to retire to bed. This left his guest with a dilemma. Should they stay and carry on the conversation without their host and be thought of as ungodly or should they leave to their homes and their beds? I imagine Chesterton’s grin as he turned and left his guests to this predicament.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to rest lately; to know when you’re done for the day—to be able to walk away from the conversation, change into pajamas, and rest. I’ve been reflecting on what it means to put your hand to the plow, to do the work you’ve been given to do, and to know when it's ok to say, “I am done for today.” This is very hard for me. I am a classic over-functioner. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that I am productive, it just means that I can’t stop working.) This is something I try to be aware of and am learning that rest is a godly thing. 

A friend of mine recently asked me, “What is something respectful that I can say to my Jewish neighbors when I see them walking to Synagogue?” “That’s easy,” I replied, “Shabbat Shalom.” The Peace of the Sabbath be with you. The idea of a sabbath was unique to the people of Israel in the ancient Near East. In a time of subsistence living, a day without working the field was a day you didn’t eat. So, for the people of God to take one day a week to rest was an act of faith that God would provide for them. They were even commanded to take one year out of seven to rest. What a commandment! And what a testament to the rest of the world who looked on and saw a God who cared for his people and provided for them when they obeyed his command to rest.

Someone recently said to me, “Working from Home? It's more like Living at Work!” In a time when we carry our work around with us everywhere we go—home office, actual office, and smartphone— we need to be reminded of the spiritual discipline of resting. Horatius Bonar composed many moving hymns, but in this moment in time, the crowning jewel of his work is this verse: 

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, O weary one, lay down
your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.  

Jesus says these famous words in Matthew’s Gospel: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” How can Jesus make such a claim? He says in the preceding verse, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father…” We can rest because he is busy at work in all things. St. Paul says to the church in Philippi, “I am confident in this, that he who began a good work in you, will carry on to completion, to the Day of Christ Jesus.” 

Jesus is busy about the work of his Father in you. Remember to trust in the work he is doing. And in that trust, find your rest.

Shabbat Shalom, 


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