The Western Wheel

Clyde showed up on the panoramic porch saying, “wow, this is the life.  This is what we were created for. This is the life!”

By his smile and big eyes scanning the scenery and deep exhale as he sat in a chair to take it all in, I could tell he was speaking of the glory of vacation—the glory of vacating the ordinary world of menial activity, restless work, and the daily grind that blinds us from enjoying the beauty of creation.

Clyde’s on to something. On the one hand, he’s a realist, and recognizes that there is something perverse with the way humans live their lives; true humanness is hampered. But on the other hand, Clyde’s an idealist; he’s sure that the curse has been lifted through the wonder-working power of vacation.

This was his good news. The enemy has been crushed. The enigmatic affliction of labor has been resolved by a cabin on the lake with a view, some good food and good company. Most importantly, freedom from the ol’ 9 to 5.

The limits of his leisure prevents him from discovering the lie he’s believing. The fast-paced world he lives him compels him to run without rest 50 weeks out of the year. Weekends are an extension of the work week, so two weeks of vacating seems like the glorious hub that man was created for. He finds no life in his work, and the occasional vacation is lengthy enough to provide respite from the demands of the Western world, but too short for him to recognize the dissatisfaction of idleness. And round he goes.

Clyde doesn’t know it but the reason he hates work is because of what he thinks it promises him. He works not only to survive but because work gives him something in return, and that something gives the illusion of human satiation of the deepest kind. He works for his gain, he works to get, he works to win and to beat: so he can’t rest. The more he works, the more he believes that he is in control; he believes he deserves to reap the fruit of labor that he’s earned. He’s in pursuit of the grand prize of unending idleness, which in the end will only bring fatigue and despair because of its disconnection from his true human purpose.

He fails to realize that true rest is not idleness nor vacation.  True rest is found in collaborative work with the person that transcends all time and space—the Creator. True rest is life-giving creation, creative expression, not for man’s sake but for the sake of a flouring world.

L. Newbigin on How God Reveals Himself in the World

“I believe and testify that in the body of literature we call the Bible, continuously reinterpreted in the actual missionary experience of the church through the centuries and among the nations, there is a true rendering of the character and purpose of the Creator and Sustainer of all nature, and that it is this character and purpose that determines what is good.  Because I so believe and testify, I reject the division of human experience into a private world, where the “good” is a matter of personal taste, and a public world, where “facts” are regarded as operative apart from any reference to the good.  I believe that all created beings have a sacramental character in that they exist by the creative goodness for the redeeming purpose of God, that nothing is rightly understood otherwise and that , nevertheless, God in creating a world with a  measure of autonomy and contingency has provided for us a space within which we are given freedom to search, to experiment, and to find out for ourselves how things really are. I believe that the whole of experience in the natural world, in the world of public affairs, of politics, economics, and culture, and the world of inward spiritual experience is to be seen as one whole in the light of this disclosure of the character and will of its Creator.”

– Lesslie Newbigin (Foolishness to the Greeks, 88-89).