This article, this truth, this word from God has been in my heart and mind for years now. What price have we paid, what has it cost us, to not observe a day of rest? A purposeful, intentional day to “cease and desist” and just look at our six days of labor and accomplishment and be thankful for everything God has given us. To take a day and just be thankful for having completed something and recognize that it is good.
A recurring theme that keeps coming up in discussions—both casual and lengthy—I’ve had with others is a desire for this day of rest that they probably have never observed in their lifetime. Still, their spirit wants it.
How long did we think we could go on rushing through life with schedules that require every single person in your household to have a calendar with their activities and obligations listed on it? It cannot be healthy to not have a single day reserved for stopping your labor and taking time to be thankful and appreciate all that is good.
This Sabbath day, “to rest, to cease and desist,” was modeled for us by our Creator, the God of the Universe. The one who created us from the dust of the earth and breathed life into our nostrils. He created everything in six days, and then on the seventh day he stopped creating. It was done. He had finished and looked at everything he had done and saw that is was so good. God wasn’t tired, he was finished. He then took a day to enjoy all that he had done.
You may wonder how this translates to us now. Are we still required to take a day and stop everything? When the Pharisees confronted Jesus about his disciples picking grain to eat (because they were hungry) on the Sabbath, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NIV).
Recently, I was in a gathering of very bright, young, vibrant, Jesus-loving adults. As we worked through probing questions about needs, barriers, and dreams in our marriages, it became abundantly clear that lack of time and a culture of busyness was a thread that ran through every single area of their life together.
These busy schedules seemed to be preventive more than productive in the areas of making new friends, spending time with current friends, fun, extended time together as a couple (and not just getting the itinerary for the day and reporting in), or playing with our children longer than the few minutes needed to just satisfy “time with them” before you move on to what you really want to do or the ten or fifteen minutes we allocate before bedtime.
This same dilemma has been going on for years! Not only in my own life, but throughout my years in ministry it has been evident that both this busyness and lack of time to slow down and rest are a source of mental and physical stress. We are anxious and fatigued. We are aching and tired. Joy and contentment elude us. Healthy, loving friendships are being cast aside because we just don’t have time. New families to your church or your neighborhood are greeted warmly, but never invited to your home, because we are just so busy.
Sometimes this “busy badge” is worn as one of honor. We hear, “The last time I had a day off was…” or “We have somewhere to be every night of the week.” “My children’s activities keep us on the road all week.”
And it is costing us greatly. Somebody needs to say, “stop.”
I know there are different schools of thought regarding the Sabbath and what God requires of us since we are no longer under the law of Moses—you can discuss that among yourselves.
But I know this: Something is wrong. For not embracing a Sabbath that was created for us, the price we are paying is devastating to our marriages, our families, our community and even our world. When we don’t take some significant time, even one day, to reflect on all that God has done and all that we have been able to do, we lose something. Thankfulness and gratitude are lost because of the stresses of the week. When we lose sight of those attitudes, we become very self-driven, self-conscious, and self-focused which leads to loneliness, despair and discontentment.
So my word of encouragement today is that we begin to pray about establishing a Sabbath—an “I have accomplished much this week, now let’s be thankful and enjoy the fruit of my labor” day. Just experiment and take a month and select one day each week when you will “cease labor, and rest.” I wonder what the testimonies would be.
Scripture teaches us that the world will know we are disciples of Christ by our love for each other. How can we show them Jesus if we don’t have time to love?