I was talking with a group of people the other day about busyness, and how our society glorifies it. Anytime you ask someone, “How are you?”, you’ll get the reply, “Great. I’m so busy.”
Even the church sometimes glorifies busyness. We would look askance at a pastor, for example, who said she or he was always bored. We’d be thinking, Why aren’t you doing your job?
But there’s doing your job, and then there’s slowly killing yourself.
This isn’t a cry for help – I have lots on my plate, but I also take a weekly Sabbath, a day for rest from my regular work that allows me to be refreshed for the week to come. Yet I think we all need a reminder that the glory of busyness is entirely a worldly concoction.
The idea of Sabbath, where one day in seven is set aside for worship and rest, is God’s concoction. He modelled it for us in creation. In Genesis 1, we see that he made the world and everything in it in six days, and on the seventh day, he rested.
Why did he do that? Is God so weak that he needs time off?
Not at all! He rested on the seventh day so that his covenant people would see their own need for a day of rest.
In ancient Hebrew culture, this day of rest grew to have all manner of laws and rules attached to it. A friend of mine, a few years ago, was out for a walk in his neighbourhood when a lady called him to her door. He thought she was in distress, but she had a small task for him: to turn on her oven. She was Jewish. It was the Sabbath. She wasn’t allowed to turn on her oven on the Sabbath…laws and rules.
He turned on her oven and carried on with his stroll.
Jesus reminded his followers that the Sabbath was made for humanity, and not the other way around. He even healed on the Sabbath, which the Pharisees considered work.
Rarely, though, do we give much thought to how we observe Sabbath, mostly because we’re not very good at observing it at all.
Let me encourage you to view Sabbath not as a law, but as a gift. On whatever day you are able to take a Sabbath, accept Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11.28-30, NLT).
Work hard. And rest in the Lord.