Maybe, like me, you’ve heard of Sabbath as a rigid day of ‘thou shalt nots’ at some point in your path and everything free in you rises up to meet it face on.
Maybe, like me, you’ve wondered how a whole day of non-stop church activity can possibly constitute any notion of rest, too?
Maybe, like me, the idea of a ‘day of rest’ seems like too much of a waste of valuable time; unrealistic, another pressure to squeeze in, and something that other people do?
Maybe, like me, you’ve got yourself in a groove that says ‘I’ll rest when I’m dead’ as you fill your life with ‘important stuff’?
Maybe, like me, at some point you’ve made it look like a day of rest, but it has been a chance to catch up with all the non-paid work you have to do at home.
All of that is rather unsatisfactory. A legalistic view of Sabbath is unhelpful. A complete disregard of the underlying principle of Sabbath is equally unhelpful. For many, there are literally not enough hours in the day to even dream this might be a possibility, and something that is good for us, so we don’t bother with the idea at all. Maybe our approach is totally reactionary. Maybe we just think we’re invincible and so power on.
As I’ve read further in Scazerro’s book ‘The Emotionally Healthy Leader’, I find he’s big on Sabbath. I’m often quite rigid about my ‘day off’ but was still very challenged by his writing. Why? Confession: I often think that I’m too central, too important, too involved, too committed to lay work aside. And that’s probably the number one reason why Sabbath should be all the more important. My days off can be much less about rest, and more about squeezing in just a little bit more under the disguise of absence from the office.
Scazerro’s book suggests that the biblical aim is a 24 hour period to stop ALL work (paid and unpaid) in order to rest, recreate, take time to delight in things (reading, walking, eating, family, laughter) and to do it regularly as a way to honour our need to rest and enjoy this one life. I know enough from Jewish friends to know that this time can be made possible if very closely guarded…AN UTTER JOY, and a weekly miracle. A time to come close to God, enjoy him and those he has put in our lives.
I do no justice to Scazerro’s fuller writing here, but it has challenged me and I’ve decided I’m going to try to clear a few things to get more quality into my own Sabbath. I take Friday off every week. Latterly, I’ve been squeezing household chores in that should really be done at other times, especially garden work.
And, even with a busyish work shedule, if there isn’t time to do all the other necessary bits, that’s not Sabbath’s problem…it’s an over-work problem. Such a challenge to stop when you enjoy it and especially hard when its more than ‘just a job’! Thing is, if we’re going to take the marathon approach as opposed to the sprint approach, we all need to slow down to enjoy this one life and union with the Creator who, after a good working week, set the tone and rested, inviting us to do the same.
It may never be perfect, but I have a huge hunch that Sabbath, freely and rightly practiced, may just be very good for the soul! I’ll let you know how my Sabbath Experiments go!