Sometimes Doing Nothing is Doing Everything

I read a fascinating article a while back about how young baseball players sometimes pitch multiple times a week all year long playing school, summer, and fall ball. The net statistical result is an increased number of Tommy John surgeries at younger ages, even for some kids not out of high school. As one of the trainers in the article said: having kids pitch so fast, so hard, and so soon is "nothing less than child abuse."

The article contrasted this with a story about Josh Beckett who has played for 14 years and 2000 innings, and who is 34 and never had the issue.

Why?

His dad never let him pitch in the summer.

Instead, he was in the outfield.

He needed rest.

While correlation does not equal causation, there is a serious lesson here: the most crucial thing we can often do is nothing.

Resting … or (to use a biblical term) taking a sabbath … initially defies common sense. Surely the key to success is constant activity toward that success? The problem with this logic is that it assumes resting is doing nothing … that resting is an adjective more than a verb. But resting is an act, and a crucial one at that.

Walter Brueggemann explains this well in his book Sabbath as Resistance:

"Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative. It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods. It is alternative to the demanding, chattering, pervasive presence of advertising sports that devour all our rest time. The alternative on offer is the awareness and practice of the claim that we are situated on the receiving end of the gifts of God.”

This is simultaneously a humbling and liberating truth—that my success is not a result of my efforts but on God’s grace. Humbling in that I long to be satisfied through my own efforts; liberating in that it recognizes the former could never be true and that God gives me that happiness freely in himself.

So whatever you do this week, do this: REST. And know that your rest isn’t laziness, but an intentional act to trust in a gracious God.