Sabbath: For Real this Time
I have posted about the importance of Sabbath, a day of rest, at least a dozen times in the last few years. Truth is I haven’t been very good about taking my own advice. I suppose compared to most I do pretty well, but I know I’ve fallen short of what God commanded.
The last three Sundays I have done very well at “resting from my labours”. I have spent plenty of time working in the garden, but that is very healing for me, and I avoid strenuous tasks. I have spent time playing with by bride – in all kinds of ways ;-) . I have spent time with friends. I have chased down articles I have wanted to read but hadn’t read because I was too busy.
Why am I doing this now? Is it because I finally have the time to do it? Hardly! I am as busy as ever, and I have a significant end of the month deadline looming. I could easily justify not having the time – as I have done for years. Thing is, I have seen the hints of impending burnout, and I don’t want that (nor do I have the time for it!). So, seeing something ugly ahead if I didn’t, I decided to follow God’s “suggestion”.
Not surprisingly, I’ve been very happy with the results. I’m much more relaxed, and I find I have greater focus and energy during the week. Aside from feeling better, I’ve been more productive since I started resting on Sunday. I know doing things God’s way sometimes often usually always works out better, so why have I fought this so long? Whatever my reason, I can’t see myself going back now!
One of the things that helped me move this direction is a book (which I will discuss shortly) that has a lot to say about a day of rest. The author included a story from another book:
“The story is told of a wagon train on its way from St. Louis to Oregon. Its members were devout Christians, so the whole group observed the habit of stopping for the Sabbath day. Winter was approaching quickly, however, and some among the group began to panic in fear that they wouldn’t reach their destination before the heavy snows. Consequently, several members proposed to the rest of the group that they should quit their practice of stopping for the Sabbath. Finally it was suggested that the wagon train should split into two groups – those who wanted to observe the Sabbath and those who preferred to travel on that day. The proposal was accepted, and both groups set out and traveled together until the next Sabbath day, when one group continued while the other remained at rest. Guess which group got to Oregon first? You’re right. The ones who kept the Sabbath reached their destination first. Both the people and the horses were so rested by their Sabbath observance that they could travel much more vigorously and effectively the other six days of the week.” (From Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting by Marva Dawn pp 65)
The God who made us knows how our bodies and minds function. He knows we need to sleep roughly a third of each day, and rest one day in seven to function properly. Failing to do either of these is like often running a car engine in the red, and it will result in problems!
By the way, any day can be your day of rest. Sunday happens to work well for me, but it will not work well for all. If you’re a pastor Sunday isn’t going to be a day of rest!