Holidays prove a hunch: the world runs fine without us. Our absence is at most a minor glitch in the steady functioning of the organization, a tiny spasm in the smooth ordering of society. It’s not even a hiccup in the rhythms of planetary motions. Things happen, and well, without our hovering and meddling presence. The world does not malfunction if we’re not there to tinker with it. Progress is made without us having to express an opinion.
Most of us get – and need – a yearly post-it-note from the universe: go fishing – we’ll figure it out without you. It’s called a vacation: we vacate, and find that the sun still rises and sets, the tides ebb and flow, and airplanes still rarely get off the gate on schedule.
This is humbling.
And it’s liberating. God never recruited Atlas. He doesn’t need anyone to carry the world on his shoulders. He does this fine all on his own.
Which is such good news. It’s good news because it relieves us the burden of managing the universe. Some days I can barely dress myself, so having the extra responsibility of running the universe is a bad idea for all involved.
But it’s good news because it also means our worth in God’s eyes is based on something other than our usefulness. God loves us for reasons other than that we’re clever or hardy. He certainly welcomes our work – working is a large part of how we’re made in his image. But he doesn’t love us for our work. He loves us, and delights in us, and lavishes favour on us, not because we’re useful, but because we’re his. We are his creation, the work of his hands. And in Christ, we are new creations, trophies of his grace.
For a good reason we associate holidays with recreation. The first word derives from holy days, the second literally means to re-create. We need holy days, not just to rest, but to remember who – and whose – we really are.