Sabbath - A Time to Reflect

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 11, 2013 0 comments

Do you ever stop and think about how fast life seems to be flying by? One thing that our society has taught us to try to avoid is idle time. We are told or expected to be always “doing” something, working toward some goal, or achieving a new feat. This is especially true as we get older and have more responsibilities, including careers, homes, and families. When we get a chance to think back to everything that has happened, all we can do is shrug our shoulders and ask, “Where did the time go?”

We have an old saying that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. While I can agree that laziness or a lack of activity in general just presents more of an opportunity for a person to fill the time with sinful things, I’d argue that hands that are constantly BUSY are also the devil’s workshop. I believe this because God, who knew from the start that human beings would have more difficulty managing their time than any other gift he has given, chose to institute a model of time management that would provide the necessary balance between work and rest. This balance is something we are sorely missing, especially in the United States of America. I just read an article today about a study that showed Americans have a harder time than residents of any other civilized country when it comes to separating ourselves from work on our vacations and other “off” times. With the increases we’ve made in technology, we try to stay as connected as possible because we worry about what is not getting done or how we might be falling behind the competition. Even when we’re doing absolutely nothing else, we have a hard time turning our brains off of work!

The problem I’m talking about here doesn’t just apply to our careers. You may be one who has no problem disconnecting from the office, only to spend your time worrying about home, church, or school responsibilities. Those who have mastered the art of true rest probably didn’t have it come naturally to them. It’s a discipline that requires effort and intentionality. My local church even included the Sabbath as one of the sermon topics in a series on spiritual disciplines a few years ago!

If you read Monday’s post, you already heard from Katie that God commanded us to take a Sabbath because he knows we need the rest. I’d like to expand that idea and talk to you about why God wants us to rest. While it’s true that we’d get burned out without the rest, I believe it is as much about our attitude and perspective toward everything we do and have than anything else. As Katie mentioned, Genesis 2:2-3 tells us about how God “rested” on the seventh day after working for the first six. While we traditionally think of “rest” as relaxation and maybe even sleep, the verb used in that passage can also be translated simply as “to cease”. Think about “rest” in the sense of the musical term for a brief pause. God simply came to a stop, briefly. But why would God do such a thing? He certainly doesn’t NEED the rest. God isn’t getting burned out. I believe the answer is just a few verses earlier. Genesis 1:31 says that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”. God had seen that things were “good” several other times in Genesis 1, but here is the first time that we read that God saw things as “very good”. The more he made, the more he reflected and appreciated his work.

If you’re wondering why I’m making this point, stop and think about the last time you were able to reflect on all the good things God has given you. Most of us would say we are thankful for all of God’s blessings, and we even have a ritual of showing our gratitude to God before our meals. But how often do we truly appreciate all that he has blessed us with? I know for me, it often takes losing something or seeing the hardships of others to get me to appreciate what God has given me. To be clear, thanking God for his blessings is not just about material things and relationships. It’s also about our careers, tasks, and the abilities he has given us to do those things. If we never stop what we’re doing to take time and reflect on all that God has given us, we’ll constantly be thinking about what we wish we had instead of what we do have. Conversely, taking the proper Sabbath of rest and reflection allows you to find more joy and blessing in going to the job God has given you, cleaning that house he has provided for you, or getting that education that many in the world would die for.

Friends, the Sabbath isn’t about doing nothing and wasting time. It isn’t about working less or ignoring responsibilities. If anything, the discipline of the Sabbath forces us to work harder on the other days to get everything done so we have the ability to take a day for rest and reflection. In Exodus 16, God provided the manna for the Israelites each day. But on the sixth day, he commanded them to gather twice as much (or work twice as hard) so that they could properly observe the Sabbath the next day. This would give them an entire day to think about how much the God of the universe loved them and provided for them, that he would literally make bread rain from the sky so they could be nourished. After a day of properly reflecting, it would be time to get back to work. Most of us think it would be foolish not to appreciate something so obviously miraculous, but isn’t that where we fail as well? If you think God hasn’t done something as equally miraculous in your life, maybe you need to take a day to just reflect and appreciate him and his goodness to you. If you don’t, you might never find joy in the tasks he’s giving you.