Bass once wrote that the commandment to observe sabbath
is the only one people brag about breaking. Sabbath rest
has become sabbath rush, as we squeeze in errands,
chores, house maintenance, and kids sports on our
live every day at a frantic pace, trying to achieve and
complete our lists. We may switch venues between home,
work, and church - but the pace remains the same. We
burn the candle at both ends, hoping to survive until
the next vacation when we can unwind, but burnout
catches all too many of us.
Christians, how have we overlooked the biblical model of
sabbath that encourages vacant time every
is so compelling about relentless activity and constant
motion? Why do so many of us feel guilty about rest and
recreation? To paraphrase Jesus loosely, "The lists will
always be with us."
incapacity to be still and our persistent drive to
achieve or be productive, whittles away our
Sabbath was formally instituted in the Ten Commandments.
In Exodus 20, the motivation for observing a sabbath
rest was rooted in creation. God rested and made the day
holy. In Deuteronomy 5, the reason for observing sabbath
is grounded in freedom. The day of rest reminded the
Jews that they were no longer enslaved to the brickyards
and straw-pits of Egypt.
sabbath link to creation and freedom is significant. God
ordained through sabbath that we cease laboring long
enough to be recreated (remember that old word
"recreation"?) and freed.
Baab writes that the sabbath keeps us from being
dehumanized. "We are human beings, yet we live as if
we were 'human doings.'"
leaders can be especially vulnerable to the rushed
sabbath, which is no sabbath. Lay leaders may feel
pressure to use any spare time to serve others and the
church. Church staffers often feel an obligation to be
on-call 24-7-365. Busyness has
become our business. At every turn a new need
arises, another crisis unfolds, another program needs
staffing and planning. Yet, without the sabbath rest the
well runs dry.
our effectiveness is more dependent on our emotional and
spiritual health than our skill levels. Consequently,
our internal well-being demands care.
consitutes sabbath activities? Baab suggests anything
you enjoy that does not have to be done or completed or
produced. If our sabbath rest ends with disappointment
that we didn't achieve more, we've worked. If we feel
refreshed and freed from the tyranny of labor, we've
honored our humanity as God intended. Ironically, then,
the same activity may prove to be sabbatical for some
and non-sabbatical for others. We may love gardening,
while our friends may hate it!
we give fresh attention to sabbath - not as Law - but as
opportunity for re-creation and freedom. "The lists we
will always have with us."