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. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
The next Sabbath road sign is “SLOW.” With this command, God gave us the wisdom to downshift to a lower gear, press the brake, and slow our pace. The rationale for this command goes like this, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” The Sabbath-structured life is built on the pattern of God’s own creative activity in our world. For six days, we engage in work-filled, productivity-based lives, but on the seventh day, we dis-engage from all those activities so we can rest.
Take note of one assumption and one misconception. Assumption: this command assumes you are working or productive in your community at whatever level you are able. Sabbath-structured life assumes 6 days of productivity, not 6 days of laziness. Even if you are retired, you are staying productive and contributing to the world in ways which are possible.
Misconception: Some of us have a difficult time resting because rest feels like laziness. However, Sabbath rest does not make us lazy for it is a reflection of how God did His work. And this rest is not useless and inefficient for, sometimes, rest is the most productive thing we can do.
Remember, life lived at warp speed, warps the soul. It is exhilarating, but also exhausting. Free yourself from the myth that rest is laziness. You can burn the candle at both ends and it will burn twice as bright but only half as long. Your value is not related to your busyness. Whether you are a workaholic or just overworked, consider: we don’t keep the Sabbath as much as it keeps us.
When I was in South America, my translator and I drove outside the city to visit local pastors. Along stretches of deserted highway, in the middle of nowhere, I constantly had to slow our van to a crawl because of speed bumps across the road every mile or so. You can imagine how effective the speeds bumps were in keeping drivers at a safe speed. My translator said, “These are called ‘topes.’ They are sleeping policemen.” They are frustratingly brilliant. One thing was certain, you couldn’t break the speed limit without destroying your vehicle. This is how the Sabbath was intended to protect us.
One of the wisest changes I ever made in my life was learning to incorporate the principles of the Sabbath into my week. My Sunday morning begins between 3:30am and 4:00am. By 2:00pm, I am depleted from preaching multiple sermons, conversing with dozens, praying with the hurting, counseling the confused, attending meetings, and who knows what else. After a late lunch, I sneak to the bedroom, put on some old shorts and a comfortable t-shirt to crawl onto the bed for a dead-to-the-world nap. When I awake about 2 hours later, Trinity has usually covered me with a blanket.
Sunday is the only day of the week I take a nap. It’s a practice I started only a few years ago, but what a welcome spiritual discipline is has become. The remainder of the day is all aboutslowing. Some Sunday afternoons we spend with the family around the table playing games. Other times, we might accept the invitation from friends to cook out and fellowship a bit. Sometimes, we grab our chairs and books to go sit on the beach for one of God’s masterful sunsets. But whatever we do, we try not to let the typically frenetic pace of life pollute it. And we try not to speed over God’s “tope” intended to slow us down for our own good.