Rest, Resistance & Recovery


Seth Haines and I met through the Deeper Story family, where he is both contributor and Deeper Church editor. Seth’s hallmark is honesty and raw truth-telling. He is an everyday poet, a gracious conversation partner about the things that matter. Friendship with Seth & Amber — a great blessing of 2014!


“YHWH governs as an alternative to Pharaoh, there the restfulness of YHWH effectively counters the restless anxiety of Pharaoh.”*

In the Spring of 2012, I found myself consumed by metrics. Our youngest son, Titus, had not been gaining weight, and our local doctors began requiring weekly weigh-ins. We were asked to log his food consumption, and began tabulating his caloric intake with near neurotic precision.

After months of struggling to pack on a few pounds, Titus began losing weight, and we landed in Arkansas Children’s Hospital where a team of doctors determined that he was “acutely malnourished,” and diagnosed him with “failure to thrive.” He was a slight child, caving in on himself.

In this season of struggle, the pressures of work were unrelenting. I practice law by day, and though my colleagues were generous (more than generous, in fact), the time away from the office began to take a toll on my practice. My metrics were slipping; I was, in an economic sense, experiencing my own failure to thrive.

There was no rest for the weary, and my life became sort of anxious cycle—from the frying pan of the office to the fire of family distress, and back again the next day. All the while, the metrics kept slipping, and slipping, and slipping: less weight gain than expected; fewer dollars collected; less new business.

I created pharaohs from whole cloth, watched them lord over me with whips. “More bricks!” they shouted. “More weight gain; more business!” And under the weight of these anxieties, I gave up and reached for the bottle.

This is the downward spiral of addiction and dependency. One becomes anxious about some uncontrollable thing, feels the fire rising in the gut, feels the heart hitching itself to one thousand wild stallions. A shot dulls it all down, quells the fire. And if one shot dulls it a little, six shots are a sort of fire-quencher. The next day, though, the doors of anxiety are opened again and the backdraft fire comes with even more heat than before. A shot dulls it all down again; six are a fire-quencher.

Lather; rinse; repeat.

The pharaohs, the metrics of our own making, they lead us headlong into self-constructed prisons.

“In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative.”

It would have been almost impossible to instruct this anxious ninny in the ways of Sabbath in those days. I could have given intellectual assent to the notion that Sabbath is good for the soul, but in the economies of occupation and family-health, it’s easy to equate Sabbath with slipping. How can we rest when our child is wasting away? How can we rest when the medical care needed is so tied to our economic prosperity? How can we rest when clients and kin need constant attention?

Do you see Pharaoh? Is he standing over you demanding more bricks, better metrics, higher quotas? Has he taken away your straw, handicapped your ability to perform?

In Sabbath as Resistance, Brueggemann gets to the heart of the matter. He reminds us of our identity, reminds us that we are the people of the God who rests. Take up Sabbath—rest—as resistance to the metrics.

Resistance? Yes.

“It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.”

Our lives are not defined by the success of our businesses, nor are they defined by our ability to protect our families, Brueggemann tells us. Our lives are not defined by achievement and accumulation. Our lives our not defined by conquering every obstacle. And by this we know the truth—the anxieties of life might seem real, but for a people created for God fellowship, they are, at best, superficial.

Certainly Sabbath is a form of resistance, and I’m internalizing that notion more and more these days. When I feel the brushfires of anxiety rise, I turn less to the bottle. I take a small Sabbath and I consider the truth—even God rested from the fastidious cares of creation. I resist whiskey by rest. I resist chemical soothing by rest. I wage a mini-revolt against dependency by rest.

I’m considering the wise words of Sabbath as Resistance in connection with recovery from chemical dependency. I’ve found a golden thread in these pages: Sabbath is both resistance and recovery; Sabbath, then, is holy.


Seth picSeth Haines working stiff who makes his home in the Ozark mountains. He and his wife Amber Haines have four boys and a dog named Lucy. Seth enjoys music, food, fly fishing, and fine sentences. You can find him on a regular basis at
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8 thoughts on “Rest, Resistance & Recovery”

  1. Diana Trautwein
     ·  Reply

    Well done, Seth. It is so hard for us to stop and so easy to construct pharoahs out of just about anything that is demanding in our lives. Thanks for writing this out so well, friend.

  2. Sue
     ·  Reply

    Wow, Seth. Tom and I have wrestled with this. We have tasted and seen that God is truly good in this obedient, countercultural, non-human response. Blessings.

    • Seth
       ·  Reply

      Yes, Sue. And I’m still trying to figure out how to live that. It’s hard, but I feel like the searching is well worth it.

  3. Kris Camealy
     ·  Reply

    This is beautifully honest, Seth. This book landed on my doorstep last Sunday (which to me is a funny thing–a book on Sabbath delivered on the Sabbath…) but anyway, your words here have made me that much more eager to read it. Thank you for this, brother.

    • Seth
       ·  Reply

      I think you are going to love this one. Let me know if you share your thoughts in a public forum.

  4. Becky C
     ·  Reply

    I got led to this great post by a friend on fb… I might know the author too.. 😉 I love how raw and real Seth’s words are. I too can forget that true Rest and peace comes from being with Christ. After reading this blog post, I was reading a reflection on our daily readings from today. The story we all are pretty Familiar with – Jesus feeds the 5000. I wanted to share this portion of the reflection because it spoke to me heart and soul and suspect it could do the same for you.
    “Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks, and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.

    When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the “bread of life”?
    Blessings friends!

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