Fr. Pat . Amobi Chukwuma
I am a philosopher and a theologian by academic achievement. Hence I will philosophize and theologize in this write-up. I am also a teacher by divine mandate. Thus I will teach out of theoretical and practical experiences. Above all, as a priest in the Order of Melchizedek, I have set out to minister to you spiritually, morally and physically for the good of the body and the soul. A sound mind in a healthy body is recommendable to you and to me.
From the theological perspective, the Almighty God is the supernatural Being. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He has neither beginning nor an end. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is the sole pure and perfect spirit. He is the Creator of all creatures in heaven and on earth. His attributes are uncountable.
According to the biblical account in the Book of Genesis, God created the earth and everything in it in six days only. He created man in his own image and likeness, but the difference is clear.
Whereas God is entirely spirit, man is made up of body and soul. God moulded the first man Adam from the soil of the earth and breathed life into him. From the ribs of the man God fashioned the first woman Eve.
From this we can deduce that women are by nature fashion oriented, because they were fashioned by God. On the other hand, men are interested in getting daily bread from the soil of the earth from which they were moulded by God. Many women go by the nickname ‘Fashion’ while many men go by the nickname ‘Ikeketeorie'(Eating through struggle).
All said and done, my main contention here is that the Almighty God, being the perfect spirit and tireless by nature, rested on the seventh day after his rigorous creative activities. If that is the case, why should we human beings not find time to rest? The Lord Jesus Christ, being God and Man, during his earthly ministry always found time out of his tight schedule to go to a lonely place to pray and to rest for a while. Some of the times the people traced his where about and would not allow him to rest.
The difficult thing I could not discern by myself and through research was the type of rest God had on that seventh day. Did he sleep? Personally I am convinced that if God sleeps for a minute, this world will somersault. Therefore he is always awake to watch over his creatures and align them in order.
Why did the Psalmist say, “O God, awake! Why do you sleep?” (Psalm 44:23). It is only a human language of calling for divine assistance during a difficult moment. If God sleeps, the inquisitive and rebellious humanity of today can attempt to overthrow him. Nonetheless it would be an effort in futility due to the supremacy of God.
Technically speaking, there is a difference between rest and sleep. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, New Edition, defines rest thus: “to stop working or doing an activity for a time and sit down or lie down to relax.” On the other hand it defines sleep as “to rest your mind and body by being asleep.” Someone can be resting without sleeping. Sleep also involves resting and dosing off. However, somebody can have a restless sleep.
Worries make sleep impossible. Some people have fearful nightmares or dreams while asleep. A certain elderly woman shouted while asleep “E gbuola ha m-oo!!!” (They have killed me-o!!!). When she woke up she accused her daughter in-law of attacking her during her sleep. Is it possible? Can someone who is relaxing be worried at the same time? If so, then he or she has no rest.
When you are resting, keep away all those things that can weigh down your mind. A certain man slept smiling but woke up crying. Such a person can be said to have unsound sleep. There was a man that went to bed on his two feet. When he woke up in the morning, he was limping on one foot.
According to him he had an encounter with an evil man during his sleep. Could it be true or superstitious? Was it a psychological or biological problem? Man is complex by nature. The body metabolism can break down at any moment, whether awake or asleep.
All said and done, what is important is that we should endeavour to rest from time to time. If a machine works continuously without break, it is bound to break down. So is the human body. We must have enough sleep on daily basis so that the body mechanism can relax and build up again. One who does not rest or sleep is bound to develop mental ill-health. He or she can slump at any moment and it can be fatal.
As Christians we are obliged to rest from work on Sundays, after we might have gone to church to worship God Almighty, the giver of human life. Unfortunately Sunday has become a day many of us fix meetings, condolence visits, play football or other games and engage in various activities that consume our energy.
Some involve themselves in business activities on this holy Day. Instead of Sunday being a day of rest, it has been converted into a busy day. All work and no rest make Jack a workaholic. On Monday we wake up tired and still engage in weekly activities.
When I was in primary school, we the pupils always looked forward to the period of holidays, especially the long vacation. During this period we went go home and rested from active studies.
We sang a popular song in those days as the holiday period approached: “Holiday is coming. Holiday is coming. The school bell shall no longer ring. Farewell teachers. Farewell pupils. Let us go home and rest.” When finally we left for short or long vacation, the spirits occupied our classrooms until we came back.
At home we only rested from going to school and from academic activities. We allowed our brains to cool down in order to be ready for the next term studies. However rarely did we rest from doing house chores and manual labour. During my upper primary school, the lot fell on me to return to my hometown from Jos and live with my grandmother.
With her the holiday period was very hectic as I had to fetch water early in the morning from a distant stream. Almost on daily basis I accompanied her to far away farmland to work from sunrise to sunset. Hence, I looked forward to the resumption of school soonest, except when I travelled to Jos to spend the holidays with my parents and siblings. Only in Jos did I rest enough during holidays.
As priests working in the Lord’s vineyard, we have the privilege of one month holidays annually. It does not entail that one ceases from becoming or functioning as a priest during the vacation. It means rather that a priest is relieved of his pastoral assignments and allowed to go somewhere and rest physically and psychologically.
A certain priest says that leave means “you leave”. In other words it does not connote “you stay” indoors eating and sleeping. If you stay, then you ought to help in times of necessity. Therefore, to avoid any clash or misunderstanding, it is better you take refuge somewhere else for the one month vacation. You should vacate your official duties and residence. That is the meaning of vacation.
Civil servants are entitled to annual leave. Often they receive leave allowance. Instead of using the leave allowance for personal care and recreation, they rather engage in business transactions. I still remember when we went to pilgrimage in the Holy Land of Jerusalem.
We were given some little amount each in dollars. Most of us did not spend even one dollar from it. They hoarded the money and were starving. They enjoyed free food only and were guilty of gluttony. Even buying of sacramental from the token was for them a waste of money. One of us came back with the dollar token and it got stolen. She regretted. She went hungry and discomforted herself for the sake of saving the dollar.
At last a thief enjoyed the dollar. When she arrived home her husband and children could hardly recognize her due to her wretched appearance. Her husband asked her if she was tempted by the devil in the Holy Land. She lied that she was pushed down from Mountain Sinai by the devil and she somersaulted. Indeed the Holy Land does not make anybody holy. Holiness is a matter of personal struggle to lead a good life.
A business man or woman can die and the business remains. The love of money does not allow many to rest. If you are worn out and die, others will enjoy the money you left behind. Business men and women should take some days or weeks off annually and travel to comfortable places to rest their minds and bodies. The Americans and Europeans are good at this.
They never toil with their holidays. Most Africans, especially Nigerians, do not include holidays in their annual budget. Even our government system itself does not give us any peace of mind and body. It is worries every day. Bad governance and corruption make us restless. Today, insecurity of lives and property has brought an acute headache on us. How then do we rest?
If God did not create the night, many of us will slump and die under the scorch of the sun in our day to day hectic activities. It is either we choose to rest alive now or rest later in the coffin. These days the casket business is thriving a lot. If we do not rest on our beds, then we shall rest in the casket. If we do not find time to rest at home, then we must rest in the graveyard.
The final life degree ‘R.I.P’ awaits us sooner or later. It is either we rest in peace (Heaven) or we rest in pieces (Hell). What is your choice? As you make your bed, so you lie on it. Let us shine our eyes now and avoid “had I known” before the judgment seat of God. Here do I drop my pen today to go and rest till next week, if God permits.