And yet, through the years, I have come to understand and to appreciate why people take vacations. We all have the need, periodically, to get away. To rest, to relax, to refresh. Jesus Himself did so. He often went off alone to replenish both His body and His soul. As did others in the Bible, such as Elijah the Prophet.
To illustrate this today, I thought I would post an insightful story having to do with the importance of taking a little time off. It’s a tale of two men…
Two men were lumberjacks, but they were not just any lumberjacks… at one point in time, these two men were seen as the best two lumberjacks on earth. They were both of equal height and equal strength. Standing at 6 foot 8 inches, and weighing in at 280 pounds of pure muscle, they towered over most everyone they came across. You can picture them right? Wearing plaid, with large jaw bones, even larger beards, and workman’s boots that added 2 more inches to their already touring statures?
Well, one day, the two lumberjacks decided that sharing the title of both being the best lumberjacks on earth wasn’t enough. They wanted to determine who was the world’s greatest lumberjack. The whole world thought it would be the lumberjack who never took a second to rest. And yet, the whole world was wrong.
So they setup a head-to-head, toe-to-toe competition. The rules were simple. Each man gets one axe, and they each have 24 hours to chop job down as much lumber as possible. At noon, on a frosty November morning, they went at it.
One of the lumberjacks, in an incredible feat of stamina, strength, and perseverance, chopped without taking even a second’s break. He never wiped the sweat off his brow and never paused for a drink of water. Amazingly, he was so strong, that he never lost velocity on a swing and he was so skilled, that he never lost precision on a chop. He cut as fast, as hard, and as precisely as humanly possible for the entire 24-hour period. Amazingly, his strength was never compromised and never dwindled.
The second lumberjack, of equal strength and stamina, chopped at the exact same velocity, precision, and force, but instead of never taking a break, he would pause for 20 minutes every 2 hours. This means that within the 24 hour period, he had 2 hours when he didn’t even swing his axe.
Now, knowing that both men were of equal strength, had the exact same axe, that both never lost strength while chopping, and that both would strike the lumber at the same frequency, it seems obvious who should have won the challenge. The whole world thought it would be the lumberjack who never took even a second to rest. And yet, the whole world was wrong. Somehow, the lumberjack who took 20 minutes every two hours to not swing his axe was the winner.
How could this be possible? When the lumberjack who had taken 2 hours of breaks was approached and asked how he could have possibly won, he responded with a modest smile and said, “Sometimes you have to pause to sharpen your axe.”
If you a currently chopping with a dull axe, then you can likely see the significance of this story. More to the point, perhaps you can see the wisdom in taking some time off to sharpen your own axe. Wise old King Solomon did. In Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NLT), he stated: “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”
I would encourage you to follow his advice – both for your own sake and also for the sake of others. And if you hold a position of leadership or service in the house of God, then for the sake of His kingdom as well.
Trust me, everyone involved will benefit if you and I will only take some time off and then come back swinging with a noticeably sharper edge.
STORY SOURCE: Available widely on the internet in varying forms. See, for instance: http://unreasonable.is/what-the-worlds-greatest-lumberjack-can-teach-you-about-balance/.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/10-10.htm.