Multiplying Rest

Written by Carl Greene

January 18, 2023

Rest is elusive. We carefully schedule times to relax, but 9 times out of 10, something comes up. When our schedule holds and we capture some time for physical rest, we just cannot shut our brains off. We continue reworking that nagging problem, we rehearse the argument we had last week, we try to bury the underlying fear that plagues us when our mind is still. In our search for rest, we uncover more stress and strain.


My problem, and maybe yours as well, is a mathematical issue when it comes to rest. Go back to school with me on a journey to review fractions. (Can you feel restful feelings flooding your soul with the hope of mathematical joy?)

As I recall from my lessons with Mrs. Gosso in my little brick elementary school, adding fractions increased the sum. For instance, ½ + ¼ = ¾. The sum is greater than the individual fractions. However, if the same fractions are used in multiplication, the result is far different. Check my math on this: ½ x ¼ = 1/8.

Rest Mathematics

Think about this in terms of rest. We cut corners in all sorts of places in life when it comes to rest. We short change ourselves on God’s design for our sleep patterns and duration. We overwork or underwork ourselves based on our vulnerabilities. We skip times of prayerful solitude because the schedule of the day is too busy. We keep our schedule as full as possible because we do not want to miss out on anything.

And then, we come to worship and expect an hour of God-centered attention to wash everything away. Like magic, we expect a worship service to recharge our batteries and put fuel back in the tank. As if worship is primarily about us, we seek a restful reset rather than a life patterned by rest naturally welcoming us into God’s presence.

We do ½ of God’s design for rest and work throughout six days, and then we pursue about ¼ of God’s design for once a week rest, and expect God to add these together as ¾, and then round up to 1 full, rest filled experience. In reality, rest is multiplicative. When we short change rest, it has a compounding result. The math is more like ½ of God’s design of work and rest multiplied by ¼ of God’s design for once a week rest = an overall shrinking experience of rest (maybe 1/8).

Rest is elusive.

Sort of. Rest is elusive when we neglect God’s Kingdom economy. We dress up our neglect of God’s rest design. We pursue “liturgical fundamentalism.” Oh, let that phrase soak in. We hold “the romantic belief that a good worship service can fix just about any problem with the human condition.”[1]

We can find God’s intended rest—by embracing His biblical design rather than our own compromised plan for rest. Our plan just does not add up, it will multiply down. There is so much more about God’s multiplying rest, which will wait for future blogs!

[1] Kaemingk, Matthew and Cory B. Willson. Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 125-6.

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