Stop the Insanity.
When was the last time you sat in silence and truly rested? When was the last time it was quite to the point that you could hear your own heart beat at under 100bpm? We live in a loud and busy society.
Everyone is always in a hurry, well except for the person who pulled out in front of you going the speed limit preventing you from going the usual 5-10mph over because you were already late to your next appointment. You spend the work day slaving away trying to climb the career ladder, or maybe you have reached the top of that ladder, got put on salary and now the company owns you demanding 60+ hours of your time. When you finally do get home you have to ‘make’ dinner, pick up the house, run the kids to their functions, or attend other social commitments. You get home late with 100 things left undone on Today’s to do list. You ‘unwind’ by watching the 11 o’clock news, laugh it off with a late show, and on good nights your asleep before your head hits the pillow. Yet most nights you lay there exhausted with your head spinning, thinking how you will do tomorrow while accomplishing what didn’t get done today. It’s 1am by the time you get to sleep and you will soon be waking up at 6am because you work out. This is your routine for five straight days a week.
Then we have the weekend.
You get ‘called’ into work for the fourth straight Saturday. The lawn needs mowed. The kids have an all day athletic tournament. The house has needed a new roof, or a new fence, or a new bathroom, or a new something. On Saturday your find yourself just as busy as you have been that past five days. But then,
then there is
A day sacred designed specifically for rest relaxation, a day to remind us that we are only human.
But if you regularly attend church Sunday is often far from restful. You ‘sleep in’ till 7:30, get up drag yourself out of bed, get the kids around, and get out the door just in time to be late for 9:30 Sunday School. Now your upset because your late again. The Sunday driver pulls out in front of you. Your face it turning flush, and its taking all you have not to curse God because here you are trying to do the right thing by taking your family to church and it seems he is doing absolutely nothing to help you get there!
You get there, sleep through the sermon because it’s the first time you have stopped and sat down for a moment in six days. After church you have to endure the extended family for Sunday dinner. Once you make it home its 3pm and you are beat. Your 30-minute nap turns into a three-hour nap and you wake up thanking God the kids didn’t burn the house down. You scrounge up dinner with whatever you have because you didn’t make it to the store last week. You try to go to bed early because for once you can, but you cannot sleep because you just slept for three hours. After tossing and turning for a few hours its 1am Monday morning and 6am is coming quick.
Please. Stop. The Insanity.
I am begging you.
Many of us believe we have to go, go, go and go some more. For some of us going has become our identity. We have come to believe if we are not moving then we are failing. Rest has become associated with weakness, slothfulness, selfishness, and failure. Yet I would argue the opposite. I would argue continual movement, especially the movement described above, is rooted in weakness, slothfulness, and selfishness where it can only result in failure. It is rooted in weakness because we are afraid someone will become better than us over night. We are afraid we will lose something of value if we do not keep moving. This fear is rooted in our selfish desire to appear awesome to everyone else around us but or family, which is rooted in slothfulness to address the relationships the really matter—your family. When you are motivated by the fear of loss of material wealth and pride you will always fail the people that truly matter in your life. If you keep up this way of life you will fail at being a spouse, a parent, a leader, and a co-worker. Without proper rest you cannot be the parent your kids need you to be. You cannot be the husband or wife your spouse needs you to be, and when these things are out of whack eventually you can no longer be the productive employee your company needs you to be. Busyness leads us down a very dark road filled with destruction, pain and shame. We were not created to live like this. You know it and I know it.
The scriptures, yep that be the Old Testament—that thing that is no longer relevant to our lives, states that on the seventh day of creation God rested and made that day holy or set apart. It was set apart in the fact that on that day God did not work—at all. He rested. He enjoyed His creation. How many of us are living with our house cluttered with ‘the American dream’ yet we are so busy we never get to enjoy it? In the scriptures God sets aside the seventh day of the week for the people to be a day of rest. They are not even suppose to leave their home, tend the fire, nothing but rest. It was a day that the people prepared for. They prepared their food, their homes, their lives around the fact that come the seventh day of the week they weren’t doing anything but resting. The commandment to keep the Sabbath and make it holy is a simple as that. Prepare for a day of rest and then do it.
Now you might be thinking isn’t the Sabbath the first day of the week? And isn’t part of keeping the Sabbath holy is going to church? And if we really took a weekly Sabbath would we then not end up like the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked for having such a strict view of Sabbath? Finally, didn’t Jesus put to close the Old Testament anyways?
Sabbath to the New Testament church was always understood as the last day of the week beginning Friday night at sundown lasting until Saturday night at sundown. The New Testament church did not meet weekly like the church does today, rather it met for worship and teaching daily. The reason church meets on Sunday today is because Jesus was resurrected from the dead on Sunday. The Christians looking to separate from the Jews decided to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ weekly as the first day of the week. At first this day was know as the Christian Sabbath, and attending Church on the Sabbath became the new interpretation of keeping the Sabbath holy. Later some churches got rid of the whole idea of Sabbath by calling Sunday the ‘LORD’s Day’ in which I argue is not everyday the LORD’s day? Finally many of us have been taught that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament Law which lead on to death by replacing it with the Spirit of Grace. This idea is supported by faulty interpretations of Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath in the New Testament. One day Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and the religious leaders are upset because Jesus, ‘worked’ on the Sabbath—something surely the Son of God who wrote the law would not do. To this Jesus replies that if a man’s Ox were to fall in a pit on the Sabbath would not then the man take the time to pull the Ox out? Another instance of Jesus ‘working’ on the Sabbath comes while he is walking with his disciples through a field and they picking heads of grain to snack on as they walk through. To this Jesus replies to the religious leaders that the heart behind the Sabbath is not the strict rules of the Sabbath but for man to have a day off from strenuous labor. Jesus says, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’ The Sabbath was a gift from God for us to use and here we ignore it. We even use these two instances of Jesus doing rather minimal work to justify our selfish and greedy desires to work more, make more, to only spend more. Jesus came not to get rid of the Old Testament, but to put the letter of the Old Testament in proper perspective. We will discuss what I mean by this in my next post. God and Jesus both desire for us to take a true Sabbath.
So you may be asking how in the world do I apply this to my life. Well fortunately for us we are given two day weekends. I would suggest starting Friday night you begin your Sabbath. Spend time with your family doing something relaxing. Order Pizza, watch a movie, read a book, tell stories from your childhood, build a campfire. The Sabbath is a day to relax with your family, being thankful for the things you have by enjoying them, and trusting that God will provide for you enough that you do not have to work for an entire day. Sleep in on Saturday or take an afternoon nap. Do what you and your family enjoy and honor God by just being glad he gave you the time to do it. This way when you go to Church on Sunday you are no longer burdened by the past week. You can be thankful for what God has already provided for you and your family allowing you to enter into true worship. You will be awake and alert, attentive to others needs. You might even learn something from the morning message. Do lawn work after Sunday dinner that way it’s just enough activity to get yourself moving and ready for the week ahead. It should also prepare you for a good nights rest; this way Monday doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks. Rest is necessary. It is even a righteous command.
And embrace life
as it is meant to be!
Unfortunately I find that I have too much to say when it comes to writing a simple blog post. Above is the main Idea I wanted to communicate through the post but there is so much more I would like to add, thus the post-script.
For many of us we can relate to the busy world, and the exhausting weeks upon weeks upon weeks with no break. We take a vacation to ‘catch up’ on yard work, or to go on a trip, yet we return from the trip drained. Many people joke they need a vacation to recover from their vacation. I have lived this life. We do not know how to rest. We do not know how to turn it off and just rest in God’s presence. With many places opened 24-hours 7days a week there are many people who cannot apply the weekend model to their life. Yet it is still imperative that they find a day to rest. Like I said before there are major consequences to no resting. Earth itself must find seasons of rest. If we do not allow our fields to rest we end up with a failed crop and the dust bowl. Don’t let the dust bowl happen in your life allowing it to suffocate you and your family to death.
Some maybe offended that I suggest taking a Sabbath outside of Sunday. If getting up and attending church and all of your Sunday commitments is restful to you then I have no qualms with Sunday being a Sabbath day. Remember the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. Yet I would ask what is your motive for making it your Sabbath? Is it to make another buck? Is it to make yourself look successful?
We often over spiritualize faith concepts such as Sabbath and Holy. We think that because something is holy then it must be this thing that is larger than life. Holy means to be set apart. God asks that we set apart a day to remind ourselves that we are not God. If we set this day apart we are participating in a spiritual events and I guarantee you that the rewards for you and your family will be larger than life.
Sabbath is to be a weekly event. It should be an event everyone in the family looks forward to. If you try and sneak a Sabbath in here or there where YOU have time, you will find that it will be lacking in its reward.
Finally, just because I am suggesting that you take your Sabbath not on Sunday does not mean that I am encouraging you in ANY way to not attend church on Sunday. Your church NEEDS you and you NEED the church. This is why I suggest that you take a different day than Sunday for your Sabbath so you might be ready to serve the church as it NEEDS you on Sunday. This way you are rested and ready to go. Your heart is already filled with thankfulness, peace, and hope enabling you to encourage everyone else. It also allows you to do whatever the church needs without you feeling like they are stealing away your only day off.
Take a Sabbath. Trust in the LORD. Save your life. Stop the Insanity.