TAKE TIME TO SHARPEN THE AXE

Written by Richard Pidgley (Birmingham UK)

Richard Pidgley is married to Lynne, has two adult sons and two super cute grandsons. Richard is an AoG minister who leads Millpool Hill Church in Birmingham U.K. Richard has an MA in missional leadership and loves to teach the Word of God. He also loves early morning trail running.

April 26, 2022

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NLT)

“Using a dull axe requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed”

Running is good for your health.
It gets you out of the house and into the great outdoors.
Furthermore,  running is a good way of meeting others, aids in weight loss and boosts mental well-being. 

Even though running regularly is great, we need to be careful as runners not to run in excess.
Too much of a good thing could lead to burn out or worse still, a runners injury! 

As a busy church pastor, it has been a long and tough season since Covid-19 first hit our media screens.
To my shame and detriment, I’ve not had a Sunday off from ministry, or any vacation for over two years.
And although I’m certainly not tired of ministry, I am, however, now tired ‘in ministry’.
The truth is that there is nothing to be proud of in saying that you’ve not had a break in a long time.
In fact, it is foolish when we don’t schedule times of rest and proper vacations.
By doing so, we place ourselves in danger of damaging our well-being. 

Chapter 1 of Genesis tells us that God displayed his glory and creative genius by creating the world, including the land, sea, skies, sun and moon, birds of the air, fish in the water and animals on the land and also mankind in a six day period.
Wow! 

Then on the seventh day, He rested.
God purposefully rested.
He did not rest because He was physically tired — as He is the eternal self-existent God who will never tire — God rested so as to set an example to man that times of rest are good for us.
This was later enshrined in law to observe the Sabbath day as a day of holy rest (Exo 4: 8-11). 

Although the law is no longer applicable because of Christ’s once and all sacrifice on the cross, let us remember the Apostle Paul’s words when he explained that the law was a ‘Teacher’.
Let’s learn that regular rest is good for us.
Furthermore, our bodies do not belong to us but to the Lord; They are ‘Temples’ for His Holy Spirit. 

Most runners take great care of their bodies by ensuring they are eating healthy and nutritious foods in order to maximise their ability and performance whilst running.
Yet many neglect vital rest. 

I’m neither medically trained, nor am I a sports specialist or running coach.
I do, however, from 56 years of life experience that when I rest each night, my body is being recharged and renewed.
Rest is a healing power which God built into our bodies when He wonderfully created us.
Psalm 127:2 says, ‘God gives rest to his loved ones.’

I WAS OUT THERE EVERYDAY!

When I first started to run a few years ago,  I was ‘out there’ everyday, often running several 10k’s each week.
I did this week in week out, obsessively racking up the miles. 

Jonathon Winter, running coach and friend of mine, wisely advised me to tone it down, to vary my routes and distances and to schedule at least one or two days of rest in my running week.
Being somewhat arrogant, I dismissed his ‘lecture’ on the importance of rest and carried on with my regime and then it happened.
An injury!
Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
In my pride, I refused to listen to expert advice and neglected rest, and as a result, I ended up sitting glumly on ‘the bench’ for several weeks! 

SCHEDULE A REST DAY!

Sometimes when runners schedule a ‘Rest day’,  they feel guilty. 
Yes, that’s right, but why is this?
I suspect it is because what was once a heartfelt passion and a joyful experience has now become an obsession.
Obsession is not a healthy state of mind and so scheduling a rest day from running is a good way to take a break from overexerting our bodies, and more importantly, from fostering a potentially dangerous mindset. 

So I’ve now scheduled a vacation from work.
As much as I love serving God and the local church, I’m really looking forward to some proper rest.
As to where running is concerned, I have long been a reformed man.
I love running but I’m careful to pencil in at least one or two rest days a week. 

When a tree logger takes a rest from his labour, it doesn’t mean total inactivity as a wise man will not only use the time to rest his body but to also sharpen his axe.
Then when he goes back to work with a sharp axe, his work is easier, more effective and productive.
It’s the same with running after a rest day.
Somehow that next run feels more fresh and fun.
And here is the thing: many runners often note that after a rest day, their distance and timing improve! 

Prayer and Reflection: 

  • Are you regularly including rest days into your running schedule?
  • Is your running still a passion and enjoyable activity, or has it become an obsession that has taken you captive?
  • Prayer: 

Father, thank you that you not only modelled rest for us after Creation, but that you delight in giving your loved ones rest.
Help me to be wise and take time out of my busy routines to rest and sharpen my axe so that I can be more effective in life for your glory.
In my moments of rest, let me sense your arms around me, refresh me and renew me in your presence,
Amen.

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