Reclaiming the Sabbath

Over the past few months I found myself extremely drained.  It is as if something was really missing from my life, something that produces the vitality I need to keep going. I managed to plug along, getting the things done that needed done, but feeling like I was really whittling away at myself a little bit in the process.

One day, for no apparent reason, I had presence of mind to step back and take a closer look at myself.  What I saw was quite interesting.  Here I am, a seminary student, yet I find my only reading of Scripture to be that which is required for class.  Okay, I’d occasionally read a verse here and there for my own edification, but for the most part, it was all about the assignment at hand, or something that I needed to teach to a class.  It wasn’t about my relationship with God.

Oh, but it gets worse.

I looked at my calendar and realized that the number of days that would go by before I even had so much as an evening, let alone a full day, just to myself, extended well beyond a week.

Where did my Sabbath go?  In my mind I tried to build myself up as someone, or something, so tough that I didn’t need a day of rest.

News-flash #1: it’s not all about me.  Sabbath is not just about me resting.  That’s part of the story, but it’s also about calming and quieting my mind to hear the still, small voice of God so often missed in the busy-ness of my life.  It’s about me, and my relationship with my Creator.

News-flash #2: Sabbath is not one of the ten suggestions.  It is one of the ten commandments.  It ranks right up there with murder, yet I do not give a second thought to failing to honor it, in the name of “there are just too many things to be done.”

When I came to this realization, I looked at my calendar, and found a weekend afternoon that was basically free.  I decided that would be my Sabbath.  I would watch a movie, take a nap, read a book because I want to, not because I have to, and I would do all these things without feeling guilty about it.  That is usually where I have such a hard time.  Even when I have just a few hours to rest, and perhaps I’m so tired I can do nothing else, I feel guilty about being unproductive.  So all the while I am trying to rest, I find myself laden with the guilt that I am somehow being slothish, and there is something more important I should be doing.  Perhaps I have just enough energy in me to rake a few leaves, to wash a few dishes, or to explore the weird noise my car is making.  The problem this creates is a destruction of any peace I can find in my rest.

On that day I consciously decided not to feel guilty, I gained more strength than I had acquired in a long time.  Not physical strength, but a mental refreshing, a re-connection with God, and a much brighter look on the upcoming deadlines in my life.

There will always be deadlines in my life.

There should always be Sabbath in my life.

It is up to me to fulfill the commitment to both, and not to underestimate the importance of that commitment to God through rest, peace, and prayerful reflection.  I have a lot of work to do in this regard, because it is so difficult to surrender time to “unproductivity.”  The lesson I am trying to learn is that there is productivity in this time of Sabbath, and that productivity extends far beyond the moment of rest, it’s like a long term relationship.  I would never sacrifice my relationship with my family.

… why would I sacrifice my relationship with God?

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