We have all been there. It might be a project at work, conflicting family schedules, or the inability to say “No”. Regardless, there are moments within our lives that we find ourselves constantly moving, constantly going, constantly…constantly…constantly. In reality, our culture has moved us from having mostly restful days to mostly busy days. Yet as Christians, we find ourselves in a very dangerous position when we allow ourselves to be consumed with kind of thought process.
As a pastor, it is important for me to lead the way for Gods people to rest.
I am guilty of it just as much as anyone else. I am constantly busy. My mind is always thinking about something that I need to do or something that could help improve what I am already doing. It does not seem to ever stop. This particular Lent season was difficult. With the Covid-19 pandemic, my work life was completely flipped around. Usually, pastors work really hard up to Easter and then rest. Easter is, after all, the most important day of the year for Christians. I found myself thinking, “just get through all of this and then you can rest.”
During my family’s morning prayer time, we read from Exodus 34:18-35. This is in the middle of God giving the law to his people through Moses. It is within that section he commands them to observe the Sabbath. They are only supposed to work for Six days and then they are supposed to rest on the seventh. Now I have read through this section many times and have studied the Sabbath principal in college. Yet this morning, I was struck to the core.
I love the idea of the Sabbath. I love the idea of resting. Yet I have also found many reasons to circumvent that rule. I make excuses like, “Well this is just a busy time of the year.” or “I know I should rest but I just ran out of time this week.” Each excuse causing me to rationalize not caring for my body and mind by observing the Sabbath. What struck me so hard today was the realization that God demanded the Sabbath to be kept even during the plowing and harvest seasons. For those who are not farmers out there, the plowing and harvest seasons are the most important for growing food. If you don’t get the seeds into the ground, they will not grow. If you don’t get the harvest in, the food can go bad. AND YET!!! And yet God tells them to still observe the Sabbath.
This complete and utter command will probably make us ask why? Why does god care so much about me keeping the Sabbath? Didn’t Jesus say that the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath? Yes! but we must understand the purpose of the Sabbath. First of all, it helps distinguish you from everyone else. In this rat-race world, to take a break makes you stand out. In the case of the Christian, that is a good thing. We want people to ask why we take breaks. The Sabbath also functions as a way for our minds and bodies to rest and reset. By taking a break, we can actually become more productive.
So my challenge for you today is to actually rest. Don’t make excuses as to why you cannot stop. If the Israelites could hold off one day to not plant their seeds or reap their harvest, we can stop as well. Do not over work yourself. Do not think that you must constantly do. I am finding that as the Lent season ran right into Covid-19 season that my life was not going to get the “natural break” and I have to stop. For the sake of my health, for the sake of my mind, and for the sake of my family and church, I must keep the Sabbath.