It's really easy to get buried in too much work, only to have one more thing come up that we must do. Of course we say, "Yes," and before long we are living overwhelmed. I've been quite surprised that even during retirement when I'm not reporting to a boss, I still find myself running ragged. It seems that no matter what stage of life we are in, the only way to have some time to rest is to schedule it.
Dallas Willard challenges us: “Every person should have regular periods in life when he or she has nothing to do. Periods of solitude and silence are excellent practices for helping us learn how to do that. The law that God has given for our benefit, as well as His, tells us that one seventh of our time should be devoted to doing nothing—no work, not by ourselves or any of our family, employees, or animals. That includes, of course, religious work. It is to be Sabbath…" (Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy, pp. 359-60)
After reading this, some of us may feel that now we have one more thing that we are obligated to do. That's not the spirit of the New Testament. Jesus expressly states that the Sabbath is made for us. He gives us one seventh of our time as a gift. It's good for us, even healthy, to stop working. But with everything else that's pressing us, how can we fit rest in? Scheduling time can initially feel like a burden, especially if we are addicted to the rush. Jim Belcher wrties:
"I struggled to take a solid day off each week. I found it hard to relax, partly because of the 24/7 demands of pastoring but also because the adrenal let-down made me anxious, tired, lethargic. I discovered that I only felt better when I finally ramped up the stress for the upcoming Sunday and started the cycle again, sometimes as early as Monday afternoon. Even on my vacations, I still had to work to keep the adrenaline flowing. I was addicted to stress. (In Search of Deep Faith – A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity, page 44).
We've been given permission
I have found that it is wonderfully freeing to know that God says it's OK for me to not always be working. When I rest, I am doing exactly what He wants me to do: nothing. It's a gift. I can spend time doing those activities that bring life to me. Maybe it's impossible to fit a whole day of rest onto my calendar this week, but I can fit in 30 minutes. And in October I can probably find a day I can block off to receive God's gift of rest. And maybe in November I could find two?
Do you know what nurtures your soul?
What brings you life? What helps you connect with God? I found it so helpful to make a list of all of those activities that filled me up. My list includes water coloring, watching a sunrise, having a latte with a group of ministry friends, taking photographs, listening to worship music while riding my bike. We can use our one-in-seven gift to do those things that bring us life.