by Dale Reeves
Have you ever found yourself singing, “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!”? Or maybe you couldn’t remember what you were asking for, like Andy Bernard in this clip.
Even if you haven’t ever longed for a Kit Kat bar, no doubt at some time or another in your life, you’ve exclaimed, “Gimme a break!” You may have used it in one of several ways. It can mean “I don’t believe you!” or “That can’t be true!” You might use this when a friend is bragging about his or her athletic exploits in high school and you’re absolutely sure your friend never ran a 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds. You can also use this phrase when you are trying to work or play a video game, and someone is constantly bothering you. You are saying to that person, “Leave me alone. Don’t you have something better to do?”
The third way we use the phrase, “Gimme a break!” is when life just seems to be continually coming at us and we feel like there is no reprieve from the messes we find ourselves in. Sometimes we are responsible for the trouble we are in the midst of, and sometimes things just take their natural course. At other times someone else is constantly reprimanding us for something we did or did not do, and we feel like there is never any letup. This is the kind of “Gimme a break!” a teenager might yell back at parents when the teen feels like he is constantly on house arrest.
This is also the kind of “Gimme a break!” we might yell at God when we feel like the hits just keep coming no matter what we do. We might actually be blaming God for all the bad things that have happened to us, and we just want him to stop and give us a break! Some people believe that bad news comes in “threes,” so after experiencing numbers one and two, they sit around and mope while waiting for the other shoe to drop. After that, they are hoping they might catch a break.
You can trace the origins of Spring Break to the ancient Greeks who wanted to blow off some steam each spring with a three-day event dedicated to Dionysus, their god of wine and fertility. But the spring break ritual as college kids know it began in the mid-1930s when a swimming coach from Colgate University in frigid upstate New York decided to take his team down to Florida for some early training in an Olympic-size pool in sunny Fort Lauderdale. The idea clicked with other college swim coaches and soon the spring migration became an annual tradition nationwide. Word got back to campuses that Florida wasn’t a bad place to spend Easter break and the flow of northern college students to southern beaches escalated through the 40s and 50s.
Spring break is meant to give students a break from classes and studies. Many choose to use it to travel, party, hang out at the beach, and engage in all kinds of things that would make their mothers ashamed. Other students opt for an “alternative spring break” where they use their time to give back and get involved in various humanitarian projects or mission trips.
Within the past several decades more and more families seem to also be taking spring break trips, perhaps to help prevent their teenagers and college students from getting into mischief by themselves. Because families have been cooped up with one another over the winter (and even more, now, with more parents working from home), there is a crying need to escape to a fun getaway in the great outdoors in the mountains or at the beach. And, in 2021, there are a lot of families who are trying to make up for lost time due to the shelter-in-place directives of COVID-19.
Many of us feel like we need a break because we live life at a breakneck speed. We live from project to project at work, from activity to activity at home, and from checklist to checklist in our own personal lives. I like what my friends Jeff and Martha Hill shared on social media as they vacationed in Florida recently:
“Sometimes you have to STOP THE NOISE of life to listen to the voice of God in you. Taking a break this week to tune out and tune in!”
Slow down. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Let God’s Spirit breathe new life in you. This next week, as we move toward a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, would be a great time to do that.
YouVersion Rest is a great resource focusing specifically on your need to renew your mind and find rest when you need it. It is a collection of videos that contain readings of sixteen chapters from the Psalms set to a soothing background of rain, thunderstorm, ocean, or piano. What a great way to allow the Words of God to give you a break and wash over you with his peace!
Rest for the Weary
Let us never forget God has already given us a break because of the suffering Jesus went through for us on the cross. When we remember his sacrifice for us through communion, we refer to it as “breaking bread,” which symbolizes his body that was broken and his blood that was shed on our behalf. The excruciating pain Christ went through for us was so extreme that the Roman soldiers didn’t have to break his legs. (See John 19:31-37). Typically, when the Romans wanted to speed up the death of a crucified victim, they broke the prisoner’s legs so he could no longer push himself up and all his body weight would be hanging by his arms. But they didn’t do that to Jesus, as King David’s prophecy had predicted just over 1,000 years before Christ’s death on Golgotha: “He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken” (Psalm 34:20, NIV).
It is because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us when he exclaimed, “It is finished!” that we can enjoy abundant and fulfilling life—including breaks from our routine every now and then. And, someday, because of God’s grace and mercy, and our willingness to put our faith in him, we will enter into an eternal “break.” The author of Hebrews speaks about this rest in Heaven: “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11, NLT).
What a day to look forward to as we will rest from the toils and labors of this life. But, until that day, Jesus still says to us this day, “Need a break? Come to me, rest in me.”
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT).