“Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:2-3
Steven Covey tells the story of two lumberjacks during the finals of an annual lumberjack competition. The two remaining competitors were an older, experienced lumberjack and a younger, strong lumberjack. The goal of the competition was quite simply to be the one who could fell the most trees in a day to be declared the winner.
The younger lumberjack was pretty sure of himself and full of enthusiasm. He went off into the woods and got to work right away, working all through the day as well as the night. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest. Still, he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win.
At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being felled coming from the older lumberjack’s part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack grew even more confident with this, figuring that it meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest. With youth and strength on his side, the younger man was certain victory would soon be his.
At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack knew he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.
At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confidently, expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than the younger man felt.
When the results were read out, the young lumberjack was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumberjack and said: “How did this happen? I could hear you taking a rest every hour, while I worked non-stop through the night. What’s more, I am stronger, younger, and fitter than you!”
The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “You are right about everything you noticed. And it is exactly that which led to my victory. You see, every hour, I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw.”
This story reminds us that we sometimes think the best thing to do is to push ourselves to the very edge –to our breaking point in order to accomplish something. But our heavenly Father has not created us to be miserable and exhaust ourselves. And He hasn’t called us to win awards, either. But He has called us to be the best version of ourselves.
Sometimes that requires us to put down our axes and rest.
Watering the Seeds
Can you recall a time in your life when you pushed yourself so far that the results were not at all what you had hoped for?
Now, recall a time in your life when you took better care of yourself. How can you take better care of yourself today?