Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV) There remains, then, a Sabbath‑rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Yesterday I felt like I had a real Sabbath day. When was the last time you had a real Sabbath day?
For me it has literally been years. Yes I have had days off, but it isn’t the same. My days off are typically filled with family obligations, catching up on work I didn’t get done that week, a recreation activity, or any number of other things that keep my life running at the normal fast pace I am used to. Day off means I don’t sit at my desk, it doesn’t mean I slow down.
This passage, among others, describes a Sabbath as resting in God and resting from work. It is something more than just physical rest, but also spiritual and emotional rest.
Yesterday I went to church in the morning and then went home. No meetings, no activities planned, no meal out…and it felt really weird. My family is out of town visiting extended family and I leave for my next trip in the morning, so this day just happened by accident.
The house was quiet, I watched TV, took a nap, did a few household tasks, and a whole lot of nothing. I did NOT check my email, go onto social media, write anything, read anything, or feel guilty about wasting time.
Today I feel refreshed. I am not good at slowing down, and not good at taking a real Sabbath. As a pastor this is a major challenge, then throw in that I am a very goal oriented person that doesn’t like to waste time and it is no surprise that days like yesterday don’t happen often.
I don’t think I am alone in this fault. I give you permission, waste an entire day doing nothing! Take an actual Sabbath day and don’t feel guilty about it. Ready…set…DON’T DO ANYTHING!
About six months ago my family and I moved into a new house. Just like any upgrade, it takes some time to adjust and grow into the change. As we were planning out what would go where in our new house, we quickly realized that we had no furniture to go into the front living room.
As we moved it was where things were stacked that needed a temporary spot, but once we were mostly settled it was completely empty. It did provide a spot for the Christmas tree, it was the regular wrestle and roll around room for our boys, and several other temporary uses, but for the first several months it stayed relatively empty and unused.
By the end of this month, that room will be completely filled with furniture, almost to over flowing status.
I look at the progression of our “extra room” and see some major parallels to how I live my life and manage my time.
1. Having extra room was strange
The house we moved from was filled to brim; one of the main reasons we moved. Our expectation was to get more room, but once it was there it felt odd. It kind of felt wasteful. We often feel like we need more time, extra margin in our schedules, but once we fight for it and reach that goal it feels strange. Even thoughts of guilt for being lazy might set in.
2. There was pressure to fill it with something
We were so used to having every corner filled there was this unwritten pressure to fill it, and do it quickly. Our society has made busyness equal importance, and so when we have un-planned time we often go looking for something to fill it with, and quickly. Soon we are back to being over-scheduled and busier than ever before.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT) 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
How much of your time do you fill thoughtlessly because you feel pressure to always have something scheduled? I realize for me I do it a lot. I need to be more wise about what I plan and why.
3. It seemed much bigger when it was empty
The room seemed absolutely huge when it was empty. Now that there is furniture in it, the size has shrunk by several feet, I am sure of it. My life seems to go a lot slower when it is not scheduled every second of every day. After constantly running at such a fast pace, once we go on vacation or have a free afternoon, we realize how long two hours can really be.
Exodus 20:8-9 (NIV) 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.
God did not design us to be going full speed ahead all the time. Especially as a full time pastor, Sunday is not a “Sabbath day” at all. It is one of my busiest work days, which is exactly why I have a day off during the week. And yet I often fill it with everything but rest and time with God.
Do you have any “empty rooms” in your life? Are you putting pressure on yourself to fill them? Maybe you should stop and think about it for a minute…