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A Time to Rest

And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. (Gen. 2:2-3, NRSV)

Sometimes it is important to stop. Daniel Schantz writes:

“I was approaching a busy intersection, but when I stepped on the brake pedal, it dropped to the floorboards and I rolled onward. ‘Lookout, everybody! I’m coming through!’

Fortunately, I got through safely, turned onto a side street, and stopped with the hand brake. When I looked under the car, I found that a brake hose had ruptured, and the fluid had leaked out. It’s a terrifying experience when brakes fail. Suddenly my wheels became a four-thousand-pound asteroid looking for a place to crash and burn.”[1]

A car that won’t stop is worse than a car that won’t go. Sometimes people have the same problem. They find themselves unable to stop.

God knew from the beginning that there would be times when we would need to stop. Our life is careening out of control, looking for a place to crash and burn. So, God created sabbath. A regular time for rest was such an important concept that God included it in the list “Top Ten Suggestions for How to Live a More Fulfilling Life”. Actually, I think those were commandments, not suggestions.

“Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. (Ex. 20:8, NRSV)

Some people see sabbath as only a resting time for God, but it was created to help humanity. Jesus often struggled with the Pharisees over this issue. Jesus recognized that the Pharisees, in their zeal to honor the law and prevent the possibility of any accidental violation of the sabbath, had missed the point. He agreed with Isaiah, that God provided the sabbath because we needed it, not because He needed the observance. And he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath (Mark 2:27, NRSV)”.

So, it is important that we take sabbath regularly in order to restore our souls. Without time away from the busyness of everyday tasks and the stress of jobs and family life, we can burn out and become incapacitated. We need time apart for a mental, physical, and spiritual break; it gives us an opportunity to do those things that calm our spirits and fill our souls.

Lately, I have been feeling an unusual amount of stress. I recognize that this means that I need to be more intentional about sabbath. Now, if you’re a ministry and mission coach, not working on Sunday probably isn’t going to do it for you. We are not to be legalistic, however, about the observance, but recognize that we need regular times of quiet restoration, even if not on Sunday.

As Steve Van Ostran suggested in a devotion last year, I made a list of what fills me and what drains me. Some of the things that drain are things that I have to do anyway. But I have resolved to set aside specific times each week deliberately to refuse the things that drain and to do those things that fill. This is my enhanced sabbath. What’s yours?

Prayer: Dear God, give us the discernment to see the wisdom of Your divine plan for our lives. Help us find ways to disengage from overwhelming daily work, and rest in your peace. Bless our times of work and our times of rest. In our Savior’s name. Amen.

Bill Mankin

Ministry and Mission Coach

Wyoming Cluster

Going deeper:

[1] Daniel Schantz, Daily Guideposts 2017 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Press, 2016).

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