Some things in life seem like no-brainers.
For example, every car needs brakes. The ability to put a vehicle into “drive” really doesn’t make sense if you can’t also eventually slow down and “park.”
Your body’s ability to rest may also seem like a no-brainer. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Some of the brightest minds in the world are still trying to figure out the complete biological purpose of sleep and why we’re hardwired to snooze in the first place.
Maybe our Creator knows something we need, even if we don’t.
Both of these examples highlight how we all need time away from the things that keep us going and going. That may initially seem like another “no brainer,” but experience has taught me that you and I tend to stink at this.
- What time each day (not merely at night) do you actually turn your cell phone off?
- When do you regularly go to bed?
- How many times on vacation do you not check your text messages or emails “just to make sure nothing big happened?”
- Do you tend to multi-task during the significant events of your life?
I hope those questions sting a little. Simon and Garfunkel were on to something when they sang, “Slow down. You move too fast.”
That’s their “groovy” way to highlight something the Bible clarifies:
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:8-9)
Some may feel that’s too confining or legalistic. Then again, might taking some regular time away from your to-do list remind you that the universe doesn’t run on your energy? As Eugene Peterson summarized, “If we are not able to rest one day a week, we are taking ourselves far too seriously.”
Talk about another no-brainer.
Time away from perceived productivity initiates real productivity. It helps protect your body from wearing out, your mind from tuning out, your soul from emptying out and your emotions from burning out. Here are a few ideas:
- Daily: Jab at your routine somehow. Claim ten minutes of downtime by turning off your phone or listening to something appropriate that makes you laugh out loud. Turn your shower time into a prayer time as a way to thank God for all your blessings.
- Weekly: Set aside a day of the week not to catch up on errands but to invest into relationships. Make sure part of that involves your connection with God and His Church. Author Mark Buchanan explains, “Without rest, we miss the rest of God. The rest He invites us to enter more fully so that we might know Him more deeply.” That rest can help you accomplish more with six days than you could in seven days on your own.
- Monthly: Reclaim at least a half-day each month (or the whole day, if you can) for something atypical. You don’t need to travel a great distance or conquer an amusement park. Even a hike up a mountain or an afternoon of bowling may be enough.
- Yearly: Maximize your vacation time. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the average American only takes about 9 days of vacation each year (compared to European countries where citizens are legally mandated to take at least 20 days off each year).
All of this isn’t meant to devise a system of regulations that becomes more legalistic than life-giving. Rather, by breaking away from the patterns of this world you will be more inclined to not be a victim of its frantic, broken ideals.
One warning, though – creating regular time away through Sabbath routines may require you to live differently.
Theologian Walter Brueggemann said it may entail “the termination of routines, the disengagement from some social conventions, or even the lowering of one’s standard of living.”
Perhaps that’s what we fear the most. Workaholics are driven by fear, but Sabbath trusts that resting in God breeds perspective and cadence.
If you don’t take a break, don’t be surprised when you break. Sabbath isn’t about time lost, but time redeemed.
Thank you for loving students!
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