Life is busy. We live in a world of fast food, microwave ovens, cell phones, and things like Gogurt (yogurt for those on the go). Life is so busy that it’s easy for our lives to get out of rhythm!
A few statements have been working on me, some for only a few weeks; others for more than a decade …
- “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.”
- “Unbusy pastor.”
- “Planned neglect.”
- “Choosing to cheat.”
Practicing sabbath time will restore rhythm to you life!
“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.” (Lily Tomlin)
"Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20.8)
What is Sabbath?
24-hour period in which there is nothing urgent. But its not just a day, the Sabbath overflows/spills over into the rest of your life. It’s a worldview, a way to live. Literally, sabbath means “to cease, desist, pause, rest.”
“Sabbath does not come just once a week. Every day needs a holy hiatus. Every week needs to be well ventilated with sabbaticals.” (Leonard Sweet)
“Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel)
The root of the word Sabbath means “to catch one’s breath.” Interestingly, the words for Spirit in the Scriptures (ruach and pneuma) are the same words for breath and wind.
"But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you send your Spirit, new life is born to replenish all the living of the earth." (Psalm 104.29-30)
I once heard that 99% of our energy should come from breathing; however, most of us access 10-20% of it. I think it’s similar with God’s Spirit. We have access to God’s Spirit in our lives, yet most of us do not "access" God’s Spirit nearly enough!
When we work and work and work, and don’t take breaks for rest, we get out of rhythm. But God built rhythm into the system from the very beginning. There’s a rhythm in the creation story (Genesis 1-2). God made the world six days, and rested one. That’s the rhythm God operated in. God didn’t really need to rest, but he wanted to build rhythm into the system.
“There is a time for everything …” (Ecclesiastes 3). God created the world with four seasons. Rhythm is built into the system!
Rhythm is about knowing when to play and when not to play. It’s learning when to be on and when to be off. It’s the difference between making music and just making noise. When we don’t have rhythm, our life is less and less music and more and more noise.
Jesus, an example of someone who lived out of God’s rhythm!
“Jesus was accused of being a Sabbath-breaker, but the truth was the opposite: Jesus was a master Sabbath-keeper!” (Leonard Sweet)
Amazingly, when you read the Gospels, there’s absolutely no sense that Jesus was ever in a hurry. Think about it, Jesus had only three years to save the world, and he was never in a hurry!
I imagine if God told me I had three years to change the world, I’d work non-stop around the clock for the entire three years, trying to accomplish everything I possibly could. But Jesus never got in a hurry. He lived in God’s rhythm … engage … disengage.
Jesus gives, produces, and serves. Then he gets up and goes out alone to pray. There’s a rhythm. Jesus knew the importance of sabbath time. Jesus engaged people a lot, but he often took time to disengage – to get away and spend time with God. Jesus modeled the kind of rhythm we need to live with in our own lives.
"But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." (Luke 5.16)
“It is not so much that we ‘keep the sabbath’ as that the sabbath keeps us – keeps us whole, keeps us sane, keeps us spiritually alive.” (Leonard Sweet)
If your life is out of rhythm — if you’re tired — I invite you to begin practicing sabbath time!
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11.28-30)
“Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there while I give you the tablets of stone that I have inscribed with my instructions and commands. Then you will teach the people from them." (Exodus 24.12)
O God, thank you for creating a rhythm for us to live in. Help us to take time today and this week to begin practicing sabbath time so that you may restore a healthy rhythm to our lives! Amen.