Do you ever feel stuck, unmotivated and overwhelmed? Tempted to give in to the pressures around you and say yes to just one more thing, even though you really don’t want to do it? Or what about those “shoulds”? Like, well I “should”sign up and volunteer for (yet another) charity and I “should” super duper deep clean my home every other day and I “should” work later in the evening so my boss doesn’t think I’m a flake?
I talk a lot about Sabbath around here. I’m pretty passionate about not being too busy and saying no to more things than you say yes to. I also love a good productivity tip, creative ways to get more done with intentionality, thus freeing up evenings and weekends for rest and fun. What if our lives were simply full, but not busy?
But I don’t believe that an organized schedule or completed to do list will solve all of our stress issues (and there are a lot of health problems that go along with stress), because that just simply changes our external circumstances.
No, I believe it’s about the heart.
Do you find a strange comfort in being too busy so that you don’t have to deal with the depression or deep discontentment going on? Does being known as the “most capable” or “most committed” person in a group cause you to boast with pride? What happens if someone more capable or committed comes along? What does that do to your attitude?
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.”
– Matthew 15:17 – 20, NIV translation
Scripture constantly points to our heart as the main motivator to our actions. And while the concept of rest isn’t usually included in the same conversation as murder or theft, what do our actions say? Are we quick to put down someone else’s issues (“murder” their doubts/insecurities/stress) so that we feel more important? Do we look for ways to “steal” from others’ joy or peace by bringing our own tornado of to do lists in, just to pump ourselves up?
It’s a tricky thing to navigate, to say the least. But when God first issued the commandment of Sabbath – to honor the Sabbath day and make it holy – it was a way for all other nations to recognize the Israelites as God’s people.
“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe the Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to com, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.”
– Exodus 31:13, NIV translation
The Sabbath rest was given to the Israelites as a way of setting them a part. God is holy. He is perfectly whole. And He calls the Sabbath a holy day, a day to rest and to remember all that God has done. And He lovingly invites us, His children, into that rest so that we might be reminded that He is the one who provides daily bread, provides the opportunities, sustains the world, and counts the hairs on our head.
He is closer to us than we are to ourselves.
And so the Sabbath isn’t about a bunch of rules and restrictions. It isn’t about being lazy every day because, sarcastically, ‘God commands us to rest’. It isn’t about not dreaming or doing or working hard to chase after the things God has placed before you. But it’s about amidst all of the craziness, being reminded of Whose you are, not what you do. It’s standing at peace in the middle of the storm, not buying into the world’s lie that your identity is tied to how busy you are, your self-worth connected to how much you accomplish in a day.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their word, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
– Hebrews 4: 9 – 11, NIV translation
// Where do you see this in your own life or in the lives of those around you? What’s one small action you can take this week to begin focusing on who God says you are as opposed to how culture might what to define you?
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