July 24, 2001
When was the last time you heard someone (more than twenty) or said yourself, “I am bored”? Not many people complain that they haven’t enough to do. The pace of life accelerates at alarming rates. Why are we going so fast? Why is our day never quite long enough to check off everything on our to-do lists?
Maybe we have too many options. Our modern society offers a plethora of choices. Yesterday I stood in a copy shop amazed at the range of papers, then went to an office supply store and was further amazed at the number and types of gel pens. The proliferation does not stop at goods and services. We have more job descriptions and more activity opportunities than ever before in history.
Besides the options, human beings have a seldom-satisfied hunger for both fulfillment and significance. For some reason, the search never starts internally at an intrinsic level. Instead, the measurements for fulfilment start with externals. People do not feel important unless they achieve mightily and own twice as much.
Whatever drives us, we often crave just a little rest. We complain that we are too busy and want to slow down yet how many actually choose a slower lifestyle? We crave the weekends but in our part of the world, Saturday and Sunday are much like any other day. People work, stores are open. Some still take Sundays off and a few go to church or spend time with family, but their metronome swings just as fast. Our worship often is as filled with action as our recreation.
Occasionally, I meet people who insist on a literal, no-work Sabbath day. For them, Sunday means church, no work, no games, no play, no sports, no travel. Meals are prepared the day before and everyone has a nap in the afternoon. Most Christians may find the ‘do nothing’ part appealing but usually consider such abstinence too radical. They say it’s a throwback from a dead era. Yet many Christians I know yearn to slow down, to get off the merry-go-round at least one day a week.
We miss and long for what God calls Sabbath rest. It began “in the beginning” when God created and then rested. He was not tired but took time to stop working, look at His work and say, “It is good.” He also set a pattern for us. He said we ought to work six days and rest on seventh as He did. We may have lots of energy or really need a physical rest, but that is not all we need.
For one thing, looking back and examining our activities is also important. At first, we might avoid this backward look. We are critical of ourselves, maybe unfairly. We might not be able to pronounce ‘good’ upon our week. Nevertheless, by examining what we have done, we are better able to evaluate our life and think of ways to improve. As we do that, we more readily ask for God’s help and become more prepared to move into the next week. We also gain a certain sense of satisfaction; last week may not have gone well but at least we can label why and put some handles on it, feeling satisfied with our evaluation.
We have heard the “the unexamined life is not worth living.” The Bible agrees. God tells us that only fools hurl headlong into their plans: “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
Scripture also says “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Folly comes easy, maybe as easy as the sense that “my whole week was a waste.” Our loving God gave us a day of rest to help us change that.
Lord, You alone have insight into the future. Your wisdom sees what is wise and what is foolish. Unless we, your people, slow down and take time to examine our lives in the light of Your Word, we will waste our days. Since You promise rewards for those who commit their way and activities to You, help us to take the time to examine what we are doing. Guide us on the right track so we do more than run around it as fast as we can.