Friday, March 27, 2020

Encouragement for Writers Who Don’t Like to Rest

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

The concept of rest is foreign to my Type A personality. I’m a doer, not a sitter. I agree with the philosophy of the pastor who said he’d rather burn out than rust out. But since burning out isn’t my goal, I’d rather work smart than work hard. Success requires some of each.

My disinclination toward rest is why Exodus 35 caught my attention. In the passage, Moses had just returned from receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai for the second time. The Israelites’ next task was to build the Tabernacle. 

This was an enormous project requiring thousands of hours of man (and woman) power, skilled craftsmen, and donations from each household. But God was in charge. He gave Moses instructions on how to craft everything from the framework that supported the tent to the inward accoutrements. God’s house—the place where His presence dwelled—would be a project like no other.

But before Moses rolled out the blueprints, he gathered the Israelites together to set the tone and scope of the project. 

If I were giving that groundbreaking speech, I’d say something like, “Okay, everyone, this is a big project, and we’re laboring for the Lord. We’re building God’s house. I expect you to work hard, fast, and efficiently. Plan for long hours and lots of overtime.” 

But that’s not what he said. Instead, he referenced the commands God had given them and spotlighted the fourth one:

"Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day" (Exodus 35:2-3 NKJV).

Whaaaaat? Moses! How are you going to get anything done if you take one day off out of seven? Really? I know it’s a good idea to rest occasionally, but isn’t there room for exceptions? This tabernacle is a big deal. We get one chance at this. And we’re working for GOD. Wouldn’t He look the other way, just this once?

I’m preparing to launch my latest book, Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible, in May. It’s a big project, and my list of tasks-to-do-before-launch-day stretches longer than the carpool line at the local elementary school. With May 5 in my sights, I’ve been gearing up to work long hours with little sleep. Seven days a week, if necessary.

But not after reading Exodus 35. Poised to launch the biggest endeavor to date, Moses, the project manager, under the direction of God, the owner, tells the workers, “Be sure to take a day off. Every week. No exceptions.” And in case some were hard-headed and ego-centric enough to think the instructions didn’t apply to them, he included a warning: “Whoever does any work on [the Sabbath] shall be put to death.”

Okay then. 

That’s pretty clear. Whoever means me. 

I don’t expect God to send a lightning bolt to zap me the moment I touch my computer, but this statement makes it pretty clear that God takes the principles of work and rest seriously. And lest I try to wiggle out of it by quoting the verse about no longer being under the law but under grace, Genesis reminds me that the call to regular and scheduled rest precedes the law and goes all the way back to creation.

Yet I still chafe under the command to rest. As I struggle to yield my will to His, it helps to remember these important truths:
  1. God’s commands are not burdensome. He designed them for my good (1 John 5:3).
  2. God created me and knows what’s best for me (John 10:14). To argue (or disobey) would be presumptuous.
  3. God’s primary goal in my life is to make me more like Jesus, and Jesus always did those things that pleased the Father (John 8:29). If I want to be like Jesus, I must obey the Father.
  4. God’s work, done God’s way, receives God’s blessing (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

As I thought through the implications of this call, I wrote in my journal, The only point of discussion, and it’s really no point at all, is will I obey or disobey? 

I determined to obey God and trust Him to honor my obedience.

As God often does, He affirmed my commitment with Scripture. I read these words in Psalm 22:3-5:

“Our fathers trusted in you … they trusted in You, and were not ashamed.” When the Israelites honored the Lord’s command by resting every Sabbath and allowing the land to rest once every seven years, God gave them enough grain in the previous year’s harvest to carry them through to the next harvest. 

Can I trust Him to do the same for me? Can I trust Him to multiply the work I do in six days and make it more effective than seven? Can I trust Him to open doors, make connections, and advance His kingdom through my work? Can I trust Him to accomplish His will through my writing for His glory?

I think I can. Our fathers trusted in God, and they were not ashamed. May we do so as well.

Now it’s your turn. What provisions for rest have you made in your work life? What parameters have you set based on God’s principles of work and rest? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.


Lori Hatcher loves to teach, train, and encourage writers by sharing what others have generously shared with her. Connect with her this spring at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference, where she’ll serve on faculty as the conference Chaplain, and at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Lori is the author of several devotional books including  Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible (releasing May 5 with Our Daily Bread Publishing) and Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year. The editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, she’s also a blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on FacebookTwitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


  1. Thank you for your honesty, Lori, and such wise insight. Resting from physical labor one day a week isn't difficult for me--I love those Sundday naps. My need to rest from anxious thoughts and from wanting things my way requires me to turn to my Father constantly in prayer. And to limit my social media time--it can be such a rest stealer.

  2. Resting can be difficult when a project is on our mind. Your new book sounds like an encouraging read. Congratulations, Lori, on the launch and for the reminder of God's instructions to rest.

  3. Yes and Amen. Though I've long believed in taking a regular day of rest, my travel and work schedule has often gotten in the way. And, like you, I'm compelled to keep working and it's hard to stop. So last year I burned out and had to take months of sabbatical. Now I'm learning to keep regular rhythms of rest and time focusing on the Lord. God gives us sabbath as a gift for us to enjoy. And, it's a way of our saying to him, "I trust you, God. It's not about what I do, it's what you do that's important. I choose to let go of control and rest, leaving "my" work--really your work--in your hands." And He is faithful!