Summer is an ideal time to talk about Sabbath. So much of our lives in the United States are designed around the schedules of education– whether we have children in school or not. We have typically thought of summer as a “break time.” Even if we have no children at home and work regular hours throughout the summer, we tend to think of summer this way and plan accordingly.
Human beings tend to honor “productivity” (as an idol), seeing rest or “lack of productivity” as a luxury few can afford. We create and are part of systems that feed off of our fear of “getting behind” – whether in our work or in our position or status. And yet we also have lots of proof that human beings need time for rest and that being overly busy prevents creativity and real gains in innovation, because our brains do not have time to slow down and to ponder and to synthesize.
Sabbath time is God’s time, and not just so we can slow down and appreciate what God has given us and what we have made with those gifts. It is time that God apportions to us because we seem incapable of creating that time and space for ourselves.
As much as it is a divine command, Sabbath is an invitation lovingly extended. God invites us to stop our normal routines, patterns and work in order to appreciate and to enjoy. God says, there is a time for everything, and I am– I am in control, I will provide, I created the Earth and all that is in it. Who are we to think that the world will stop working if we stop for a Sabbath pause?
Do not imagine that it was any easier for the ancient Israelites to do this than it is for us. Israelites were introduced to Sabbath practice after they were brought out of slavery in Egypt, when they were wandering in the desert. Fully reliant on God for safety, direction and food, they still had a hard time trusting that they could take a day off from gathering manna and still have enough to eat and to provide.
Our fear of what will happen–if we stop working, if we stop doing chores, if we just take some time to look around and enjoy life for a minute–prevents us from doing Sabbath well, …and it is not new. Why is God’s invitation and command just as relevant today as in ancient Israel? Because, despite our advances (and sometimes because of them), we still need to be commanded and invited into Sabbath.
Sabbath: the regular practice of an intentional pause… to revel in God’s delight. Try it.