Updated: Aug 24
On your mark, get set, GO! Sometimes, I feel like I am in a race I did not even intend to enter. I find myself in a hurry for no real reason. As a society, we seem to be collectively in a hurry. We want real time responses. Who has time for snail mail? We don’t even want to leave voice messages. Text them – they should respond right back. Getting untethered from technology to enjoy a vacation is almost impossible.
Oh, I Rush and Rush
It's not just work that gets us in a hurry. We have kids sports practice, play rehearsals, and homework. We have exercise, community activities, and even church obligations. We have aging parents to care for, and adult children to help find their way. We have doctor appointments, grandchildren to visit, and “the good life” to enjoy. We have a lot to do. I am reminded of the lyrics by the band Alabama: “I’m in a hurry to get things done. Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die. But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”
In the heat of the rush, these words always come back to haunt me. As a culture, we are very good at so many things. We are creative, driven, and ambitious. We are resilient, strong, and courageous. Our country has built incredible wealth and a huge middle class. However, we are tired. Authors like Dr. Richard Swenson have pointed out that we are living our lives without margin to the detriment of our mental and physical health. Unfortunately, our only real rest usually occurs when we become ill. Otherwise the race is on.
I had the pleasure of hearing a speaker who recently taught on this issue, and she gave the most compelling description of the Sabbath I had ever heard. Most Christians are aware that God gave us the gift of the Sabbath. In fact, it is codified in the Ten Commandments. Over the centuries it has become wrapped in legalism and now virtually ignored. This speaker focused on three aspects of the Sabbath that captured my attention – worship, rest, and delight.
A colleague of mine once described to me the enthusiasm he had whenever he was in the house of God on Sunday, no matter what church he was in. His genuine excitement was convicting me as I thought about how easily distracted I was by traffic, parking, my kids, weather, and the many other inconsequential things that took my focus off the sheer joy of joining with other believers in corporate worship.
While I still become distracted, I am more cognizant to seize the moment and enjoy the fact that I “get to” worship instead of the fact that I “have to” worship. We get to take a day each week where we relish in God’s holiness and infinite love for us.
I confess that I have a hard time with this one. Who has time to rest in a race? Again, God knows that we need time to be still and rest. We need time to recharge our batteries. There is nothing better than a good Sabbath nap. We have six other days of the week to be busy, busy, busy, but we are blessed with one day each week to enjoy rest. Unfortunately, I have ruined too many Sabbaths with work, chores, and busyness. The natural outcome was that I faced Monday morning tired and spent. God had a plan – we just need to follow it and enjoy the gift of rest.
This concept also challenges me. As an adult, I had to think about what it meant to delight in God and his creation. I tend to associate delight with my kids when the ice cream man shows up on our street. What could I delight in? Maybe a walk on a pretty Sabbath day with my wife. Maybe paint a picture even though I can’t paint. Maybe read a book I enjoy. I have found a renewal in considering the wonder and delight of life that I can enjoy each Sabbath day.
As we go along in the great race of life, perhaps we can stop and enjoy the incredible gift of the Sabbath. As we take time to worship, rest, and delight, there is no doubt that we will rebuild some of the margin in our lives.