Rest & restlessness

Well, we are back from our Alaskan cruise.  What a great vacation.  A cruise ship offers rest and relaxation, the beauties and sublimities of nature, the benefits of civilization, learning interesting things, fine food and drink, entertainment (shows, live music, movies), time to read for sheer pleasure, quality and quantity time with whomever you are traveling with (in my case, my wonderful wife of 40 years).   You can make a vacation of any one of those, but a leisurely cruise gives you all of them.  We had a week of utter enjoyment.  So why, after a week, was I so ready for it to end?

One might say that I need to be productive and all that.  But I really believe this is a fault.  St. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.   Restlessness is surely a function of the Fall.  In Heaven we will rest from our labors.  We will enjoy a permanent vacation, with pleasures forevermore.  We cannot even conceive of what that kind of existence would be like. And the foretastes we might have of that on earth–such as a vacation–can be hard for us to handle for very long.

What strange beings we are!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Rev. Jon Bakker

    It makes me thankful that believing unto salvation (i.e. receptively), is much easier than living receptively!

  • Rev. Jon Bakker

    It makes me thankful that believing unto salvation (i.e. receptively), is much easier than living receptively!

  • Tom Hering

    “One might say that I need to be productive and all that. But I really believe this is a fault.”

    Does vocation have its roots in the curse that followed the Fall?

  • Tom Hering

    “One might say that I need to be productive and all that. But I really believe this is a fault.”

    Does vocation have its roots in the curse that followed the Fall?

  • fws

    rev bakker

    kudos. this is exactly the difference between us and kevin de young over at the “gospel coalition, along with most reformed. thanks for that formulation.

    We don’t live receptively. Our life looks like romans 7 and the Old Adam. So, as Luther and Kenneth Korby said: “life is death. Life is mortification. but that does NOT mean that mortification is Life. ”

    Tom Herring:

    Interesting thought. Probably so! It is a dichotomy in life that should probably not be there and is there because of sin, but at the same time it is there as a sacramental sign for us believers of God working his Goodness and Mercy in , with and under the things of the fall. Your perspective distinguishes between creation and the fall the way few people see things. thanks!

  • fws

    rev bakker

    kudos. this is exactly the difference between us and kevin de young over at the “gospel coalition, along with most reformed. thanks for that formulation.

    We don’t live receptively. Our life looks like romans 7 and the Old Adam. So, as Luther and Kenneth Korby said: “life is death. Life is mortification. but that does NOT mean that mortification is Life. ”

    Tom Herring:

    Interesting thought. Probably so! It is a dichotomy in life that should probably not be there and is there because of sin, but at the same time it is there as a sacramental sign for us believers of God working his Goodness and Mercy in , with and under the things of the fall. Your perspective distinguishes between creation and the fall the way few people see things. thanks!

  • DonS

    And not to mention that after a week on a cruise ship you are utterly tired of eating :-)

  • DonS

    And not to mention that after a week on a cruise ship you are utterly tired of eating :-)

  • Susan

    If Adam was meant to work rather than be idle, that is, God gave to him the work of ‘dress[ing] and keep[ing] the Garden’, such work before the Fall was clearly a pleasure rather than the difficult labor it then became under the Curse. Why is it unreasonable to suppose that even in Heaven we won’t have useful work to do? Further, since we’ll enjoy doing whatever it is we’ll be doing there, can we even call it work?

  • Susan

    If Adam was meant to work rather than be idle, that is, God gave to him the work of ‘dress[ing] and keep[ing] the Garden’, such work before the Fall was clearly a pleasure rather than the difficult labor it then became under the Curse. Why is it unreasonable to suppose that even in Heaven we won’t have useful work to do? Further, since we’ll enjoy doing whatever it is we’ll be doing there, can we even call it work?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Right, Tom, but I don’t think vocation is a function of the Fall, as such. The vocation of marriage was established before the Fall. And, as Susan says, Adam and Eve were called to work before the Fall.

    The curse of the Fall was not work but frustration in work (bringing forth thorns as well as fruit; the conflicts and power struggles of marriage). Adam and Eve were indeed called after the Fall: God called for them while they were hiding. That prefigures the call that is the Gospel. So I do think our “restlessness” is a function of the Fall.

    Susan raises a fascinating issue: Will there be productive and satisfying work for us to do as part of Heaven, or, more specifically, the New Heaven and the New Earth after our Resurrection?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Right, Tom, but I don’t think vocation is a function of the Fall, as such. The vocation of marriage was established before the Fall. And, as Susan says, Adam and Eve were called to work before the Fall.

    The curse of the Fall was not work but frustration in work (bringing forth thorns as well as fruit; the conflicts and power struggles of marriage). Adam and Eve were indeed called after the Fall: God called for them while they were hiding. That prefigures the call that is the Gospel. So I do think our “restlessness” is a function of the Fall.

    Susan raises a fascinating issue: Will there be productive and satisfying work for us to do as part of Heaven, or, more specifically, the New Heaven and the New Earth after our Resurrection?

  • Tom Hering

    Yes, Dr. Veith, Susan makes a good point – one that accounts for the dichotomy that Frank spoke of. Vocation has its origin in Creation, so it’s good. But it was altered by the Curse, so it’s also a burden. (Every vocation leads to suffering of some kind, sooner or later. Vocation even leads to death for police, soldiers, and firefighters).

    I’m not real sure about a direct connection – if you were, indeed, making one – between the call of the Gospel and the various vocations each person is called to. My vocations are my service to others, whether I’m in Christ or not. The Gospel is the forgiveness of all my sins, only because I’m in Christ.

    I can’t think of a Bible verse that indicates we’ll have occupations after the Earth is renewed. But it seems reasonable to me that we will, if the Resurrection brings the restoration of Creation as it was, originally. Perhaps, just as the first man was a gardener, our primary vocation will be to care for the other living things God has created. And not just plants (for our food) but also all the animals (not for our food) that will be resurrected to share in “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Or so I believe. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Yes, Dr. Veith, Susan makes a good point – one that accounts for the dichotomy that Frank spoke of. Vocation has its origin in Creation, so it’s good. But it was altered by the Curse, so it’s also a burden. (Every vocation leads to suffering of some kind, sooner or later. Vocation even leads to death for police, soldiers, and firefighters).

    I’m not real sure about a direct connection – if you were, indeed, making one – between the call of the Gospel and the various vocations each person is called to. My vocations are my service to others, whether I’m in Christ or not. The Gospel is the forgiveness of all my sins, only because I’m in Christ.

    I can’t think of a Bible verse that indicates we’ll have occupations after the Earth is renewed. But it seems reasonable to me that we will, if the Resurrection brings the restoration of Creation as it was, originally. Perhaps, just as the first man was a gardener, our primary vocation will be to care for the other living things God has created. And not just plants (for our food) but also all the animals (not for our food) that will be resurrected to share in “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Or so I believe. :-)

  • helen

    Veith @ 6
    Susan raises a fascinating issue: Will there be productive and satisfying work for us to do as part of Heaven, or, more specifically, the New Heaven and the New Earth after our Resurrection?

    Tolkien writes about the possibility in “Leaf , by Niggle”.

  • helen

    Veith @ 6
    Susan raises a fascinating issue: Will there be productive and satisfying work for us to do as part of Heaven, or, more specifically, the New Heaven and the New Earth after our Resurrection?

    Tolkien writes about the possibility in “Leaf , by Niggle”.

  • Jonathan

    I wonder if it is a remnant in us from before the fall, such that even despite the good things we may experience on this side of heaven, we still recognize and long for our heavenly home, and so know innately that this isn’t it.

  • Jonathan

    I wonder if it is a remnant in us from before the fall, such that even despite the good things we may experience on this side of heaven, we still recognize and long for our heavenly home, and so know innately that this isn’t it.

  • fws

    Jonathan @ 9

    God provides his goodness and mercy by the Law which he has written in the reason of all men. That tells men that there is something…. some standard.. that is beyond what we will have in this world… songs and poems about love, which is the reason for the existence of the Law workings express that longing dont they?

    at the same time that same Law always accuses us. It always demands more of us until it demands our very life at the end.

    I think that men long for that thing that is perfect love or a return to paradise. at the same time when God offers that return men reject it, flee from it and call the way God offers foolishness. Reason wants to do something to return there.

    And then God comes along and says “be baptized” and you will be there right now.

    This makes sense only to those who have faith in the Works of Christ and seek both the end of their longing and the return to paradise in his works alone, and see only death in our own highest aspirations.

  • fws

    Jonathan @ 9

    God provides his goodness and mercy by the Law which he has written in the reason of all men. That tells men that there is something…. some standard.. that is beyond what we will have in this world… songs and poems about love, which is the reason for the existence of the Law workings express that longing dont they?

    at the same time that same Law always accuses us. It always demands more of us until it demands our very life at the end.

    I think that men long for that thing that is perfect love or a return to paradise. at the same time when God offers that return men reject it, flee from it and call the way God offers foolishness. Reason wants to do something to return there.

    And then God comes along and says “be baptized” and you will be there right now.

    This makes sense only to those who have faith in the Works of Christ and seek both the end of their longing and the return to paradise in his works alone, and see only death in our own highest aspirations.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith asks (@6):

    Will there be productive and satisfying work for us to do as part of Heaven, or, more specifically, the New Heaven and the New Earth after our Resurrection?

    Seems to me the best answer to this is: yes, based on Genesis 2:

    The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

    That is to say, there was work to be done in sinless, perfect Eden. It wasn’t hard work, apparently (sweat-work seems only to be part of the curse after the Fall). But I wouldn’t expect the New Earth to be necessarily different from the pre-Fall, old Earth.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith asks (@6):

    Will there be productive and satisfying work for us to do as part of Heaven, or, more specifically, the New Heaven and the New Earth after our Resurrection?

    Seems to me the best answer to this is: yes, based on Genesis 2:

    The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

    That is to say, there was work to be done in sinless, perfect Eden. It wasn’t hard work, apparently (sweat-work seems only to be part of the curse after the Fall). But I wouldn’t expect the New Earth to be necessarily different from the pre-Fall, old Earth.