Sunday, February 15, 2009

Relax! Take a break!

Let the fate of Pheiddipedes be a warning to us.

The year was 490 B.C., and the Greeks and Persians were at war. The Persians had the upper hand: they had just destroyed the Greek city of Eretria and were on the march again toward the plain of Marathon, in the heart of the Grecian homeland . . . just miles from the great city of Athens.

Seeing the approaching Persian army, a Greek soldier, by the name of Pheiddipedes, ran as hard as he could, and without stopping, the more than 20 miles that separated Athens from Sparta. He ran to bring the terrible news of the Persian advance and ask the Spartans for their support in fighting the Persians. But, as soon as he arrived in Sparta and delivered his urgent message, Pheiddipedes dropped dead from exhaustion. Pheiddipedes had given his life for the run.

Modern America is a busy place. Everyone, it seems is on the go from morning till night. Our jobs demand hours of our attention, perhaps as much as 16 hours each day, and we face deadlines that become all the more pressing. Even at home, the pace of life does not seem to slow. Chores need to be done. Pets and livestock need tending. Sporting events beckon. Civic duties cry for our attention. Even the youngest of our children are bustled about at school and in their extra-curricular activities. And so, we often find ourselves in the sandals of Pheiddipides, running a race at a pace that may eventually kill us.

We need moments of rest, moments when we step out of the race and take a much needed breather. Even the Super Bowl is interrupted for halftime. The World Series has a seventh inning stretch each game. Marathon runners slow the pace a bit to grab a cup of Gatorade. So, why shouldn't we follow suit and ease it up a bit? Have we forgotten God's action on the seventh day?

Many people feel guilty relaxing. "Idle hands make for the devil's handiwork," we say as we keep ourselves always on the go and always at work. But busyness without proper rest wreaks havoc on people's lives. People become too stressed because of the hectic schedule they keep. Stress produces illness in the body and difficulty in relationships and even has a detrimental affect on one's spirituality. The pressure builds until something has to give. Often, the results are tragic.

So, take a break. Relax! Schedule regular and purposeful times of rest, times of contemplation and leisure and play, times with family and friends. You will find that your work will profit.