“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure,” said Eric Liddell to his sister Jenny in the movie Chariots of Fire. Eric was a famous Scottish Olympic champion in short distance and a missionary to China. Although his sister was urging him to return to China as soon as possible, he knew God had given him a gift. By choosing to delay his return and run in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Eric was convinced he was honoring God by pursuing his calling as a world-class runner.
Following World War I, there was no more accomplished golfer than Bobby Jones. In 1930, he achieved the Grand Slam by winning the US Open, British Open, US Amateur, and British Amateur championships—all in the same year! The golfing world was stunned, however, when shortly following those victories Jones decided to retire from golf. He didn’t decide to hang up the spikes because his skills had diminished in any way. Instead, the talented athlete made his decision because he had accomplished the greatest feat in golf at the time and had nothing left to prove. He simply chose to give his golf career a rest.
In 1882, Antoni Gaudí began construction on the Sagrada Família, a basilica in Barcelona slated for completion in 2026. The National Geographic reports that at the time of Gaudí’s unexpected death, less than 25 percent of the exterior was finished. Even if he had not died prematurely, Gaudí knew he’d never see the completed work; but it didn’t bother him. He believed he was working for God. Whenever asked about the immense time for the project, he answered, “My client is not in a hurry.”
As an educator, each spring I feel the promise of summer break beckoning me. I appreciate the respite from the usual demand to complete projects, grade papers, and participate in countless meetings. With more opportunities for quiet, summertime reminds me how often busyness can tempt me to see each commitment as merely a task to be checked off a list. Choosing to instead be present in the moment allows me to savor uncomplicated joy.
After months of intense stress at my job, as well as a busy season with family and ministry, I was exhausted—and more than just physically. Reflecting on the prior six months, I realized that, although I had tried to be consistent in my work ethic, I didn’t consistently take time to rest. Responsibility is an important part of life, but disorder sets in when responsibilities become the chain holding us captive to self-reliance.
When the radio station I worked for relocated, I was suddenly out of a job. Although qualified as a teacher, hosting radio shows had felt like a better fit and it was all I’d done since graduating. When I couldn’t find employment back on-air, however, I returned to the classroom. It was difficult. I felt out of my depth, and the experience humbled me. But although the adjustment was challenging, I’m convinced the skills I gained in the classroom prepared me for my next job—back in radio with a national broadcaster.
When an international scholar visited a seminary in the US, he was surprised to see an American colleague gardening on Sunday. For him, that activity wasn’t appropriate for the day of rest he observed on Sunday, whereas his colleague found the experience of planting, sowing, and digging to be restful, providing enjoyment and a bit of mental relief. Although the two men interpreted the Sabbath principle differently, they both agreed on the importance of seeking to rest each week.
Harry’s job in the cobbler’s shop was to pound leather for shoe soles. He would cut a piece of leather to fit, soak it in water, and strike it with a hammer until it was dry. Harry asked his boss if he could simply attach the soles while they were wet. But his boss, a believer in Jesus, knew that Harry’s easier method would result in an inferior shoe. He explained that just as some are called to be pastors, he was called to make shoes. Thus, he sought to always do his work with excellence for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Jamie, a professional artist, sometimes feels guilty for the long hours she spends in her studio. She wants to “take up” her “cross” to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), but she enjoys painting. Does that count? She wonders if she loves her art too much, in an idolatrous way. Sometimes she feels she must “pay” for her enjoyment through struggling in other areas of her life. She’s never understood how her painting could count as following Jesus.
One summer I spent a month in Bolivia, living with missionaries at a fledgling Bible school. Different jobs awaited me each day. Sometimes I cooked, cleaned, or did laundry. But every day I worked on construction projects. I loved learning all of the different tasks (okay, not the laundry!). One day, a pair of missionaries from another religion came to the school to tell us about their beliefs and to challenge ours. The thought of answering their questions intimidated me. I put my head down and kept working while a friend talked with them. I remember thinking, “I’m glad I don’t have to do that job!”
One morning, I was surprised to see my mail carrier lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, I maintained Nigerian citizenship because of my parents’ diplomatic status. I once met a lady from Indonesia who excitedly launched into her native tongue after learning my birthplace. Embarrassed, I informed her that I was only there briefly and had no knowledge of the language. I was born in the country—but am not of it.
One day as I drove by a vineyard located several miles from my house, I noticed a sign that read: Fieldworkers needed. For just a moment I imagined myself hard at work, standing between rows of vines with the sun on my neck and sweat on my face. I could almost smell the fruit ripening in the summer heat and feel myself snapping clusters of grapes from beneath broad leaves.
The only thing Julius Kettle didn’t enjoy about returning home from boarding school on weekends was the countless rocks he had to gather. His father was gradually turning their family farm into a structure that looked much like a castle, built from the rocks of the land—rocks that Julius had to collect. Years later my folks bought the property, and when I now look at the castle-house, I can’t help but marvel at how skillfully it was crafted.
When we considered remodeling our basement, our neighbors all recommended the same person for the job—Tony. He’s an experienced carpenter who shows up every day, delivers more than he promises, and finishes what he starts. People trust this handyman enough to give him their house keys and many let him keep the keys after he finishes the job. When they have a home repair project, they simply contact Tony and he comes over, lets himself in, and goes to work.