A pastor once told me, “The snow is God’s way of telling the world to slow down.”
I don’t know why, but that statement has stuck with me ever since.
You know, we’re not very good at resting now a days. It seems things are always calling for our attention at all hours of the day. Stores are open all days of the week—some of them for 24 hours (you know, in case you need a gallon of milk at 2 in the morning). On top of that, jobs expect that you’ll be open to work every day and overtime is not uncommon. We should even expect to have to work holidays in places that by no means need to be open on a holiday.
I’m a part of the problem of course. I take advantage of places being open on days and times when I don’t need them to be. Most of us tend to abuse rest to some extent.
And I suppose I should correct myself a little bit—I can be pretty good at rest. I try to keep a time for it each week. I try not to go over my hours when possible. I have certain days reserved to be either alone and recharge and be with my family as much as possible. I know when I need to say no to things.
However, I’m not great at “Sabbath” rest. There’s a lot of restful things I like to do that I wish were “Sabbath” rest. Going to the movies, binge-watching a TV show, playing video games, searching the internet, cleaning the house, cleaning the yard, going shopping, or if I don’t have money, going window-shopping.
But while these things may bring me some rest, they don’t necessarily bring me sabbath rest.
Sabbath rest is kind of a forgotten concept in the church, despite it being such a big deal in the Bible. I kind of get it. It’s a little hard to rest when it’s commanded of you.
“Uh… Am I resting right? Is this how you do it?”
“No! You’re resting wrong!”
“Oh… uhh…. okay, let me try again… How about now?”
I like the way the Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel talks about Sabbath. He makes me hungry for it. For him it’s a time to commune with the Holy Spirit—it’s as though you’ve been waiting for this day all week because your friend is coming over to be with you. The house has been put in order ahead of time to spend all your time with that person while they’re there. The way he talks about it is heartwarming and beautiful. To quote him:
“The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind has received from the treasure house of God. All week we think: The spirit is too far away, and we succumb to spiritual absenteeism, or at best we pray: Send us a little of Thy spirit. On the Sabbath the spirit stands and pleads: Accept all excellence from me…”
But it seems that more often than not, busy, busy, busy we stay. And so we shovel our way across town, because few things are more uncomfortable in our society than a sabbath—even when nature itself commands it.
What can you do today to rest or sabbath?
Prefer to listen to this post instead?