Book Review: 'The Gift of Rest'
The Gift of Rest by Crickett Keeth is a short Christian non-fiction book about why we need to stop and rest, despite the hectic 24x7 world. Keeth also details why we not only need to but permission to rest, as well as our obligation to take a break.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this book? What can the audience gain from it, and how can you best utilize its content?
Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of the book through BookCrash.
Pros of "The Gift of Rest"
"The Gift of Rest" by Keeth is an easy read with around 125 pages. You can read it in an hour per day, and it is designed to be read in eight study session. Each section has exercises to record your thoughts on the subject and come to a deeper understanding of the topic.
The book directly and succinctly attacks the idea that taking a break, whether as a Sabbath day or time at the end of the day for yourself, is somehow against the Christian faith. And it comes with a bibliography at the end so you can refer to the sources, if you so choose, in addition to the verses quoted in the main text.
The section on the Ten Commandments does a good job on dissecting what people worship – be it TV or productivity or busyness – that prevents them from taking time off to rest.
The book does a decent job of pointing to references and then giving discussion points on why rest is not the idleness repeatedly condemned in the Bible.
"The Gift of Rest" quotes several verses as to why over-work is bad even when you aren't on the Sabbath, such as Exodus 18:17-23. It is nice to see a book on "rest" also discuss why working 12 hours a day the rest of the week is also bad.
The last chapter on solitude and silence is a fair introduction to Christian meditation.
Cons of "The Gift of Rest"
The book has a section on why grumbling is bad, why we must submit to God's will per the Bible. This is intended to say why we should take the days of rest called for in the Bible without complaining about it, but it doesn't set the book off on a good tone.
The Bible study questions for each passage such as "Is there a promise to claim?" or "Is there a prayer to repeat?" is itself repetitive.
Each lesson contains a section on looking reflectively, essentially meditating on God. This is, in my opinion, optional.
The book emphasizes resting in God's presence as a source of renewal and strength. It neglects the overall productivity benefits and renewed energy of taking a day off to rest and renew.
The book discusses the need not to become legalistic, mirroring the Pharisees who sought to condemn Jesus for healing the sick on the Sabbath. However, we aren't to take that as an excuse to make fancy Sunday meals and clean house and run errands such that Sunday becomes more work than the rest of the week. The book doesn't discuss ways to prevent this from happening aside from praying about it and reading the Bible. The LDS church does a better job emphasizing the role of extended family meals and Bible study on Sunday to bring the family closer together.
The last chapter essentially states one does not have to do good works to get into Heaven, simply accept Jesus. This is a doctrinal point not everyone will agree with.
This book is a good addition to your Bible study curriculum on why it is OK to stop and take a break. You could even use it as your Sunday Bible study curriculum for several weeks, with a decent tour of the Old Testament and New Testament teachings on why and how we should use the Sabbath and why periodic rests are not condemned like idleness.
I give the book "The Gift of Rest" four out of five stars due to its short, simple and direct nature on what could be a very long text. It is accessible, interactive and easily understood by lay people.