Even if you’re not particularly religious, you have to hand it to God — the sabbath idea was a really good one. It’s like he knew we’d run on fumes if given the opportunity. It’s like he knew we’d never rest if we weren’t basically forced to. Sure enough, we run ourselves into the ground — physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally — pretty much any way we can.
So (and again, even if you’re not religious, you probably know this much) God created the world in six days and then he rested.
How does an all-powerful God need rest? Well, he doesn’t. But I think he was trying to teach us something, namely: Give yourself a minute, will ya?
Last weekend, my wife and I took the better part of three days to rest. Boy, did we need it.
I’m not speaking out of turn or being overly dramatic when I say it’s been a tough six month stretch for the two of us. We both started the year going to counseling (together) for some past hurts inflicted by the church. That turned into trauma therapy for my wife and digging back through some serious tragedy in her life. In the middle of it, my vocation transitioned from full-time pastor to no longer working in the local church. It was all very dizzying, to tell you the truth, and there were times that for lack of any other thing we could think to reasonably do we just turned on each other — either with hurtful words or distance or accusations based on fear.
Of course, life didn’t stop. We have two kids. We both have full time jobs. The mortgage is still due, the flowers needed watered, the dog needed walked, and dinner needs to be fixed. You’ve been there. You don’t have time to not be 100%, and yet you’re not 100%. Not by a long shot.
If you’re feeling kinda, don’t. Hang on just a second.
The thing is, I needed a sabbath. I needed to give myself a minute. Sure, I needed to suck it up in some ways, and I needed to just surrender in others. But above all I needed to breathe.
I needed to just be.
So we know these people that have this rental place on a river a couple hours from our home, and my wife booked it for the weekend. We had great conversation, perused the old town shops, ate good food, read our Bibles, and spent time on the water.
It was glorious. It was refreshing. It was just what the doctor ordered.
We couldn’t hear our kids’ favorite shows running the background. We didn’t have to worry about pushing our plates to the middle of the table where the dog couldn’t reach if we got up to get something else. We didn’t have to give to a patient or a teenager and we didn’t have to complete any projects. We moved slower, talked longer, thought deeper. Like I said, it was fantastic.
Even in light of the six month slog we’ve been through, where I felt dry and with an emotional pit in my stomach, in just three days I felt like I drank until I wasn’t thirsty and ate until I was emotionally full.
So here are two questions I’d ask with urgency.
- When was your last sabbath?
- When is your next one?
If you can’t remember the answer to the first question and you don’t know the answer to the second, that’s a problem. You need a sabbath day. Or a weekend.
When we got in the car to leave the rental house, my wife and I looked each other.
“Again,” I said, “Soon.”
“Definitely,” came her reply.
Maybe you get rejuvenated in nature, or maybe you can unplug and unwind in the middle of a big city. The place isn’t as important as the pace. Slow down. Rest up. Refocus. Eat good food. Read your Bible. Get on some water. Write. Have good conversations. Take a sabbath day or three.
My wife, reading her Bible from the back deck with a killer view of the Guadalupe River.