Summary: In this crazy time obsessed world is it time to reclaim God's gift of a Sabbath Rest?
What a crazy world that we live in. You ever feel like the Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland”? You know the one, he’s always rushing this way and that looking at his watch and muttering, “I’m late, I’m late”. It seems that every hour of every day is filled to the limit with things that need doing and we never seem to have enough time to do it all. How often have you caught yourself wishing for more hours in the day or more days in the week so that you could finally catch up and finish everything that you are supposed to do? That wouldn’t do any good though, we all know Murphy’s law and some of us know about Newton’s law of gravity, but how many of us are familiar with Parkinson’s Law, first set forth in the middle of the last century, 1955, by C. Northcote Parkinson and it says: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
And so regardless of how much time you had available you still wouldn’t have enough. And if you were granted your wish of having an extra day in each week your stress level would simply be added to, because you would have one more day to try to jam too much into. Maybe instead we should wish for shorter days with fewer days in the week to limit our crazy schedules.
Modern technology promised us that all of the new conveniences would save us time and make our lives easier, but in the workplace, computers, blackberries, and cell phones have increased the pace of our work rather then reducing it. At home dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums and microwaves have made life easier but to go back to Parkinson law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion. And so mothers’ lose the time they saved to schlepping the kids around to hockey, music and school activities. Even our kids are stressed out because so much of their time is scheduled and there is so little time to just be a kid, playing and allowing their imaginations to run wild.
It is a never ending circle that seems to escalate over time until finally, there is no more time. Henry Twells an English poet who lived in the 1800’s wrote:
When as a child I laughed and wept,
When as a youth I waxed more bold,
When I became a full-grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find, in passing on,
O Christ! wilt Thou have saved me then?
And it is into this crazy rushed world that we would like to re-introduce the fourth commandment which reads Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
The Sabbath, a day of rest seems to be an archaic today in the year 2010. You’re thinking “Well sure, that was fine for back then when people didn’t have as much to do, as far to go, but no sir not for 2010, in 2010 we need every hour of every day and every day of the week to get done what we have to get done.” And that my friend is a crock. Please remember one cardinal rule of life, “You do, what you want to do.” The fourth commandment was not given just for the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness, and it wasn’t just given for Jesus and his disciples and it wasn’t just given for John Wesley and the early Methodist’s in the 1700’s or and it wasn’t just given for your grand parents, the fourth commandment is as valid today as it was 30 years ago, 200 years ago, 2000 years ago or 4000 years ago.
God didn’t just give it annoy people or to mess up their plans for the weekend he did it because he knew what we are like. He knew that if he didn’t legislate a time out in our lives that we wouldn’t take one. A tree has to take a break, it can’t say, “you know I really should produce leaves all year round and fruit in January when it’s cold and miserable.” A bear doesn’t choose to hibernate or not hibernate, and what can you say about a cat. Nature has no choice it must take a break because that’s the way it was created. But people are different, we have our freedom and that is the problem. We can drive our bodies, minds and emotions well past the breaking point. We have the power of choice and because of that power we are always in danger of destroying ourselves for some false set of values. It might be work, it might be appearance, it might be the desire to be the perfect parent but in a combination it provides a deadly cocktail for burn out.