The holidays are upon us. Feasts, celebrations, presents, family and friends, a new year with new opportunities. Yet, many seem so frantic. Life is lived at such a fast pace that days, weeks, months and years pass by in a blur of acquaintances, places, meetings and events, and projects. The volume is loud, everyone and everything demands undivided attention, and we find ourselves constantly overworking and seeking ways to get ahead so we can, finally, rest, take a break, kick back and enjoy life a little.
Shoppers dazzled by advertised prospects voluntarily leave their comfortable homes, delicious meals, and loved families and friends to dive headlong into fierce, crowded battles to get the earliest and cheapest gifts – or, for others, the latest last minute gifts no matter the cost – their efforts can obtain.
The irony is that we have an opportunity given to us freely every week to exit the fray. For many, this is an unopened gift. For some, this thing is viewed as an anomaly, a strange concept thrust upon them by a mean God and a zealous people who have no understanding of reality. For others, it seems like a great idea, but completely unworkable in today’s society.
This gift is none other than the Sabbath. This weekly day, and other holy days (holi-days), including some of which were to last as long as a week during which there was to be no regular work but joyous feasting and celebration and worship. Grilled meat, fresh bread and vegetables, abundant drink, rest and worship sounds like a good thing, but so many are loath to consider this 4th commandment a gift, or fully embrace it as a routine practice in life.
I am amazed at how often God refers to the command and concept of Sabbath in Scripture. From the account of creation in Genesis to the promise of a new creation in Revelation, God reiterates His design and intent to provide rest, especially to those who are faithful.
Moses is instructed to direct the entire nation to celebrate the Sabbath every week, and is reminded that – even though the Lord created and owns the entire world – even He can take a break and rest. Prepare double on the sixth day, the Lord instructed, then shut everything down to rest yourselves and honor Me on the seventh day.
David recognized God’s bountiful blessing in his life when he noted appreciatively, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23). Remember that feeling, perhaps when you were a kid, of just laying in the grass and not having a single other care in the world?
My parents and grandparents used to make me take naps as a youngster, and I remember trying to find ways to fake naps, or avoid them altogether, as if that was a good thing. However, now that I am older and wiser, and like citizens of many cultures around the world, I believe everyone should take a break every day after lunch, and enjoy one day a week that is completely different, markedly unselfish, holy, and restful.
Evidence exists that those who take time to sharpen their axe can cut more wood in a given time span that those who insist on not stopping and, yet, continue to whack away with a duller and duller tool.
As one highly acclaimed author asserts in one of his management books – some of your best people may spend some of their best time staring at the wall (“Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”, Harvey B. Mackay) – this Lesson 44 recognizes what God has instructed all along. Take a break, and good things can happen.
God believes in His design so much that He actually promises good things to those who open this weekly gift (keep this commandment), and warns of bad things for those who ignore it. We can fight it, but we are not a people of our own design, nor do we control most of what happens in the universe.
Our culture is full of much razzle, dazzle, and frazzle, but God wills that we fill our lives with meaningful work, and intentional rest that glorifies Him.
So, how about opening the gift of the Sabbath this year? Lay aside yourself, your plans, your regular work, and at least one day a week, do nothing.
Then, if anyone asks you what you are doing, say, “Nothing. Nothing today. Today is a day to honor the Lord. Today is a holy day, a day separate, given as a gift for me, for us, for everyone. Tomorrow, and the other five days of the week, we will work, hard, and bring glory to God in all that we do. But, today, why don’t you join me in exiting the fray? Let’s ignore the razzle and dazzle, avoid the frazzle, and do nothing, together, today, all day, once a week, every week all year, for the glory of God.”
Published in Meat and Potatoes for the Soul, Copyright © 2013 by K. Lynn Lewis.
K. Lynn Lewis serves as President of The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas and is the founder and President of InspireUSA: Celebrating the Best of America®. A seasoned entrepreneur with a diverse professional background in business, education, and ministry, he is the author of Boss Like God: A Blueprint for Elite Workplace Performance (2018), Meat and Potatoes for the Soul (2013,2015), Plight (2015), and Christian Communication in the Twenty-first Century (2002), and producer of What a Dig and Shiloh Network News video series.