Are you busy?
I’m not asking whether or not your calendar or plate is “full.” I’m asking whether you feel busy, rushed, or hurried deep within.
One researcher discovered that many Christians fall into a vicious cycle of busyness that leads to distraction from God:
- Christians are assimilating a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to
- God becoming more marginalized in Christians’ lives, which leads to
- a deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to
- Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to
- more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload. And then the cycle begins again.”1
Actively Resist That
As we begin 2021, I want to challenge you to actively resist that. That impulse inside of you, which makes you believe you are what you do. That whisper inside your head, which causes you to think your worth comes from your output. And that voice from our culture, which glorifies the busy and vilifies the idle.
That. That thing. That impulse. That whisper. That voice. In 2021, let’s together resist THAT.
I love how Ruth Haley Barton puts it in her book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership,
When we keep pushing forward without taking adequate time for rest and replenishment, our way of life may seem heroic, but there is a frenetic quality to our work that lacks true effectiveness because we have lost the ability to be present to God, to be present to other people and to discern what is really needed in our situation. The result can be “sloppy desperation”: a mental and spiritual lethargy that prevents the quality of presence that would deliver true insight and spiritual leadership… When we are rested, however, we bring steady, alert attention that is characterized by true discernment about what is truly needed in our situation, and the energy and creativity to carry it out. 2
Start Practicing The Sabbath
The path to resisting that is not found in holidays, vacations, or getting away.
The path to resistance is the Sabbath—one day a week where we are not doing what we have to do, but a day where we get to be. It’s a day to rest, a day to rejoice, and a day to worship. The Sabbath is that day—once a week—where we are reminded that we are not human doings, but human beings, and that God is God, not us. The Sabbath is that day where we remember that God did not rest on the seventh day because he was tired, but because he knew how much we needed it. And heck, if HE RESTED, what excuse do we have not to?
The Sabbath is that day—once a week—where we are reminded that we are not human doings, but human beings, and that God is God, not us.
I love how Mark Buchanan describes the Sabbath in his book, The Rest Of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring the Sabbath,
Sabbath is that one day. It is a reprieve from what you ought to do, even though the list of oughts is infinitely long and never done. Oughts are tyrants, noisy and surly, chronically dissatisfied. Sabbath is the day you trade places with them: they go in the salt mine, and you go out dancing. It’s the one day when the only thing you must do is to not do the things you must. You are given permission— issued a command, to be blunt—to turn your back on all those oughts. You get to willfully ignore the many niggling things your existence genuinely depends on—and is often hobbled beneath—so that you can turn to whatever you’ve put off and pushed away for lack of time, lack of room, lack of breath. You get to shuck the have-to’s and lay hold of the get-to’s.3
Wow. Sabbath is that day once a week where we get to “shuck the have-to’s and lay hold of the get-to’s.” I love that.
Edit The Other Six Days
Here’s the thing, though. It will be nearly impossible to start practicing the Sabbath unless you first edit the other six days. Did you catch that? You can’t just add the Sabbath onto your proverbial list of to-dos. If you take that approach, the Sabbath will feel more like a burden than a blessing.
Practicing the Sabbath is a re-orientation to life, a re-orientation to ministry, a re-orientation to priorities, and a re-orientation to grocery shopping, vacuuming, and all the other “have-to’s” of life. We must edit the other six days before we can start practicing the Sabbath. So as you start this new year, what do you need to move to the other six days so that you can observe the Sabbath?
I’ll leave you with a few words from Ruth Haley Barton on this matter,
Sabbath-keeping is the linchpin of a life lived in sync with the rhythms that God himself built into our world, and yet it is the discipline that seems hardest for us to live. Sabbath-keeping honors the body’s need for rest, the spirit’s need for replenishment and the soul’s need to delight itself in God for God’s own sake. It begins with the willingness to acknowledge the limits of our humanness and then to take steps to live more graciously within the order of things.
And the first order of things is that we are creatures, and God is the Creator. God is the one who is infinite; I, on the other hand, must learn to live within the physical limits of time and space and the human limits of my own strength and energy. There are limits to my relational, emotional, mental and spiritual capacities. I am not God. God is the only one who can be all things to all people. God is the only one who can be two places at once. God is the one who never sleeps. I am not. We can’t remind ourselves of this enough. This is pretty basic stuff, but many of us live as though we don’t know it.”4
So this 2021, let’s ensure that this is the year we have a weekly rhythm of being still and knowing that he is God by practicing the Sabbath.
1 Barton, Ruth Haley, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, 2018, p. 118
2 Barton, p.120
3 Buchanan, Mark, The Rest Of God, 2007, Location 1443
4 Barton, p.122
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