Editor's Note: This is a spoken word performance by Curtis Winkle. It was originally presented at TBC Norman on 25 September 2016. Below is a static video with Curtis's performance. Below the video, you can find the full text of the piece.
by Curtis Winkle
America was built on hard work. Opportunity often comes disguised as hard work. Idle hands are the devil’s playground. But work is a gift. I believe these things. I’ve seen these things. But like all good things, work can become an idol.
Each evening when I got home I would eat dinner and help put the kids to bed, then head back to the couch and flip open the laptop. There in the blue light, I chipped away at what needed to be done, pushing that boulder up the hill until 11, 12, 1, sometimes 2.
Each morning when I arrived there were new fires awaiting my attention. I would douse them with all the water I could muster-—listening to customers vent, answering them with calm explanations and assurances of better service moving forward. In the worst cases, I would promise to take on their project myself to make sure it was done right.
And I was drowning.
While on the exterior I put on a mask of confident tranquility, adrenaline from the stress was pumping through my veins all day, every day. What do you do when the business you've built is no longer viable? When what you've given a decade of your years to cannot be sustained?
Here in this passage in God portrays the Sabbath day as a reenactment of Israel’s emancipation from slavery. It reminds them how he delivered his people from a condition in which they were not human beings bearing his image, but simply automatons in Pharaoh's brick production system.
On the weekends I was home, but I wasn’t. Emails and text messages dinged my phone, and I responded while halfheartedly playing with my kids — present in body, but not in mind. But this was what I did. I took care of business. I provided for my family. I did my duty. Until my body broke. And boy did it break.
For two weeks I couldn't walk. For six months I had sharp, unceasing pain in both legs from thigh to ankle. There was a fogginess in my brain that prevented me from focusing on even the most menial tasks. I was a fragile, anxious, emotional wreck. I clung to God like a man hugging a pole in a hurricane. Or rather, I fell on him like a man whose legs no longer work.
And I rested.
What do you do when your business no longer viable? You crash hard into reality that you don't run the world. And you either breakdown. Or you rest. Or if you’re an overachiever like me, you do both. See we were made to work. But we were also made to rest.
It turns out, productivity is not the measure of our worth. Turns out our identity does not change based on how our business is performing. Turns out I was not the one providing for my family the whole time. That was an illusion. You see: it turns out our God runs the world. Even that little corner of creation he’s put you in. Turns out God himself rested—not because he needed rest, but to show us who we are and what we need. Turns out his yoke is easy and his burden light. Turns out the only work that absolutely has to get done was finished by our Lord Jesus Christ.
It turns out he found no rest here so that we could find rest in him.
Curtis is a writer, media strategist, and editor at A|C. He can't stand Tolkien, loves Lewis, and wants to be Chesterton. Curtis and his wife Emily have four boys, Damon, Luke, Cameron, and Henry.