Ahhhh the craziness of the holidays with all their frenetic activity are over. Most of us have even stuffed all the trappings of Christmas back into their boxes for a year’s rest in the attic or basement. Whew! So we find ourselves in a lull time as we wait for the next physical or liturgical season to begin. However Christians have only 3 weeks or so to wait as Lent heralds spring (even if it does begin February 26th). Thus whether we like it or not, we find ourselves in dormant time. For many this seems like a vast wasteland of waiting. In fact, for some it can make us so uncomfortable that we throw ourselves into boatload of self-assigned projects. While a case could be made that cleaning cupboards and closets, starting a knitting project, or building a log cabin in the back yard might have its merits… an endless stream of to-do’s is not what God has in mind for us as God’s precious beloved creatures.
God has designed the entire natural world to have periods of rest or Sabbath time. A time to breathe and be, rather than bust our behinds on a treadmill of tasks. As much as it occasionally aggravates me, even houseplants take a rest from blooming. As we hear in Genesis 2:1 “And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all of his work of creation.” Remembering that creation “days” are not the same 24-hour day that we experience, we can understand that rest periods are God ordained and essential to our wellbeing.
While we may understand that intellectually we humans have spent eons ignoring it. Exodus 16:28 “The Lord asked Moses, “how long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you.” A gift? Let’s be honest. I love the feeling of getting so much done. I feel important and valued when my lengthy to-do list gets completed. It is much harder to feel useful and needed when I have accomplished nothing more than a stroll around the neighborhood, a nap, or watching the birds in the backyard. Yet that is exactly what God calls me and you to do. After all we are human BEINGS not human doings. It is a task that becomes even harder when we are “plugged in” to the world through social media 24/7.
But just in case we can’t just take God’s word for it, it has been scientifically proven that taking Sabbath will produce greater peace of mind, heightened creativity, and more expansive sense of gratitude in our hearts. Additionally we will enjoy a deeper spiritual relationship as we are finally available – to listen, to see, to experience God. By taking Sabbath we will also realize more enjoyment in our future activities.
As someone who grew up in a “gotta be busy can’t relax until all the work is done and there is always something to be done” world, I understand how hard it is to stay in the Sabbath mentality – no matter how many seminars I have taken on the subject. And yet… it is worth it. I have experienced it and it is wonderful! Even if I only make half a list, turn off my phone and social media for 4 hours, or climb every other mountain; it is progress. Despite a nagging feeling that I have to justify my existence, I reluctantly experience what God has been trying to tell me all along. “I’ve got this so you can let go.” and “I’ve got you and you are precious even if you do absolutely nothing!”
Rather than being bemoaned, these “dormant” or Sabbath times truly are a gift.
I am humbled and a bit embarrassed at my insistence that the world needs my 24/7 help. How about you? Perhaps I’ll go take a nap…