Heaven and Earth were finished,Genesis 2:1-4; The Message Translation by Eugene H. Peterson
down to the last detail.
By the seventh day
God had finished his work.
On the seventh day
he rested from all his work.
God blessed the seventh day.
He made it a Holy Day
Because on that day he rested from his work,
all the creating God had done.
This is the story of how it all started,
of Heaven and Earth when they were created.
I grew up in the Christian faith tradition, and am still a member of a mainline Protestant denomination. With parents who are both ministers, exposure to the Bible is unavoidable, but they always pushed me to look past the words and to study it with a critical eye. Like all works of art, the Bible is a product of its times, and needs to be read in the context in which it was written.
My mother once told me “The Bible is the story of our faith, but it is a story, not a documentary.” As a result, I’ve learned to read the Bible with an open mind, and in seeking to find all the beauty within the story, not the literal truth. The late Eugene H. Peterson’s contemporary translation of the Bible, known as The Message, is a spectacularly beautiful translation that brings out the beauty and rhythms that are sometimes hard to find in other translations.
There is a type of prophecy in Peterson’s translation of the first few verses of Genesis, and it’s a prophecy that we badly need to hear. It is a message that is especially important for individuals and employers to hear.
When the story of creation is told, it is a story that was passed down through oral tradition for centuries or millennia before ever being written down. I don’t believe that it was six twenty-four hour periods in which the earth was created, I think that it was a way of explaining where creation came from in a time before we understood the science behind evolution.
I also don’t think that God was done creating on the sixth day, nor that she was done her work. In fact, much of the history of Christianity is the history of people being created and re-created through connection with the Sacred around them and the Sacred in others.
I don’t think that the message of the passage above is that we shouldn’t work Sundays. As someone who is on 24/7 when I’m on call, I understand that type of thing just isn’t possible, and hasn’t actually ever been possible.
The prophecy in the opening passages of Genesis 2 is that we need to find an appropriate place to cease our work, and to rest and recover. Our work will always be incomplete, there will always be more of it. As individuals, we need to recognize that pausing and taking a break from our work is not a disruption, it is a necessity.
The prophecy for business owners, and one that I believe in whole-heartedly, is that employees need to be paid well enough that they can afford to take a day without working in order to do the things that bring them joy. Your primary responsibility is to your employees, the ones who rely on you to allow them to meet their daily needs and reward you in turn with their best efforts.
We all know those people who have to work 60+ hours just to make ends meet, and we know just how exhausted they are. Nobody should have to work 7 days a week just to be able to afford to live.
I had a timely reminder of the importance of taking a day of rest this week. As someone who is working a full-time job, plus trying to manage two other jobs, a dream, and do some social media for my wife’s second job at the same time, I’d fallen into the same trap as many entrepreneurs and founders. I was working my… working hard, and trying to hustle all the time. If I wasn’t writing, I was working on my website, or I was searching for new places to sell First Aid products.
Yesterday, my body and mind told me that enough was enough. After dealing with a time-critical issue, I shut it down for the day and did absolutely nothing of importance for the day. Or rather, I did the only thing that was important to me. I allowed myself to say “I have finished my work for the day, I am going to rest for today, and it is good.”
And I did…
And it was…
You should try it soon.