Summary: Sabbath-worship, prayer, study, and time for reflection are an important part of remembering who we are so that we can connect with God and have renewal. But if we do not make time for these practices, we are missing out on the wonderful, abundant life th
I want to give you all a picture of a “day in the life of Clair.” Every morning, I get up and get ready for the work day, and then I hop in the car for the long commute from East Ridge to my office (here) at Grace. Now, for most of my ride, I’m on interstates or highways, and people are zooming by me. But it never fails that some days I get up (here) to the part of Hixson Pike where it narrows to two lanes and the speed limit is 40 miles per hour, and I find myself stuck behind someone going 39, and it drives me nuts! Because really, the maximum speed is the minimum speed, right? So then after a full day in the office, sometimes I’ll stop on my way home at Publix or Bi-Lo and after grabbing a few items I head to the check-out, where I always look to see which line is the shortest with the fewest amount of groceries to ring up. But then, once I’ve picked a line and stand there waiting, I’m always watching the other lines to see if I would’ve gotten out faster if I had indeed gotten behind that man in the blue jacket. And, of course, I get pretty annoyed if I figure out that I ended up choosing the wrong line because time is of the essence, right?!? Our lives are so busy that not a moment can be wasted!
Do you feel this way? Do any of you constantly feel hurried and rushed? Does it seem like you’re always hustling from one thing to another and never quite have time to get everything done? For the month of September, we are going to consider our busy lives and take some time to reflect on God’s wisdom for keeping things balanced and for living the best lives possible.
How many of you keep a day planner? Or maybe a calendar hangs on the wall in your kitchen? And I’m betting a lot of you are like me, you keep your calendar on your computer or phone. (Here’s a picture of mine, and as you can see, it’s pretty full, as I’m sure yours are too!) [I don’t know about your calendar, but mine’s pretty full!] And how many times a day do we check our calendars or day planners? For those of us with lots of meetings or appointments or activities, we’re probably looking at the calendar several times a day, right? Our calendars are like the guide to our lives. If people want to find out a lot about us, they can just look at our calendars and have a pretty good idea of how we spend our time and what we value the most. In fact, we often come to a point where our lives are essentially ruled by our calendars. The clock becomes our “god,” and it always seems like there’s never enough time to get everything done, even when we are hurrying from one thing to another. And so with that in mind, we come to our first bit of guidance from God.
As hard as it sometimes is to believe, God desires good and wonderful things for us. It’s why he sent his son to the earth to teach us and guide us and even die for us, so that we can have life abundant in God’s presence. And it’s not that God wants us to have that great life only after we die, God desires that we would experience that even now. So way back, several thousand years ago, God delivered to his chosen people, the Israelites, the “Ten Commandments,” part of which we heard this morning. God’s intent in giving these commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai was that they should be received never as a burden, but always as a gift, an opportunity to grow deeper in relationship with God. We often reduce the Ten Commandments to a simple set of moral principles, but that’s not what God had in mind at all. The commandments come as a gift from God to his chosen people to structure their common life, and to shape individual lives that are worthy of this God who has rescued them and with whom they are in covenant. They should not be read as divine finger-wagging or moral hand-slapping; these commandments are intended to mold our life with God in the best way possible. And the most distinctive of these commandments is the one we heard just a few moments ago related to Sabbath rest.
When God commanded the Israelites to “remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy,” it was the first time any religion had set aside a special “holy” day each week. Of all the religions that were part of the ancient world, none had a special set-aside day. But God wanted the lives of his people to be different, to be better, and God knew that in order for that to be possible, they would need rest. Indeed, God seems to know us better than we know ourselves. So God gives this Sabbath commandment, which is about honoring God’s rhythm for our lives, and rest is written into the very nature of things. In encountering God on the Sabbath, God’s people can hope to recover a right relationship with our God. Sabbath is about remembering who you are, resting, and being renewed as God’s people.