With summer comes the chance for many of us to go on vacation, or “take some time off.” But I wonder how good are we at actually “taking time off,” or enjoying a Sabbath (Sunday) in a way that is actually restful?
Jesus reminded us that the Sabbath was made for people, not the people for the Sabbath. But many of us do not take full advantage of the rest God intends for us.
In Wayne Muller’s book, “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives,” Muller reminds us that, in his work and rest, Jesus obeyed a deeper rhythm. Jesus and the disciples sometimes went for days with no rest healing and caring and preaching and sharing God’s love. But, at a certain point, Jesus and the disciples also needed rest.
Jesus didn’t wait to “take time off” until he and the disciples had completed all the work there was to do. He knew that time would never come. Instead, he invited them to rest in the middle of their busyness, when they “really didn’t have time” even to eat. He knew God’s command, and he knew how important rest was for people to function fully, as God intended.
Jesus knew that when the only thing that human creatures do is “work, work, work” and don’t take time to truly rest, their extra efforts don’t get that much more done, but actually become counterproductive. Our constant busyness only wears us out, takes us away from rest that renews us, keeps us from loving and thanking and worshipping God, and we can no longer be what God really means for us to be.
When we become still and allow our lives to rest, we are renewed by time, by food, by family, by God’s wonderful creation, by doing nothing our energy returns, and we gain “a gradual clarity of perception.” This experience reminds us of a wonderful principle of Sabbath time: God does not want us to be exhausted; God wants us to be happy.
Muller says that Sabbath time (Sunday or any other day) can only begin if we “close the factory, turn out the lights, turn off the computer, and withdraw from the concerns of the market place.”
He suggests that we choose at least one frequently-used appliance or device in our lives (the phone, TV, computer washer or dryer, etc.) and let the appliance rest for a Sabbath period a morning, an afternoon, a whole day. Then, we can surrender our lives to a “quality of time” when we will not be disturbed or tempted to respond to any of these technologies that we feel we can’t live without. Notice how you respond to the absence of the “grabbing for our attention.” He is sure you will notice a difference and be glad for the rest.
Most of us need to become better at taking the time God commands for us to “just rest,” and be re-created by God, so we may return to service refreshed, happy, and more able to live and love others and share God’s love with those around us.
Have good rest.