Vacations are wonderful, aren’t they? You might be aware that Tara and I were away last week on a vacation of our own – that’s why there was no article posted here during that week. We had not been away from our everyday responsibilities (except for a few days during the Christmas season) since moving to Midland last August. We were ready to take a break!
When was the last time you took a step back from your responsibilities and allowed yourself to relax?
It doesn’t take a full-blown vacation to keep us healthy and sane. In fact, we live in such a luxurious culture that many of us actually can walk away from work, home, and responsibilities for several days at a time – and our little corners of the world keep on spinning. We truly are blessed to live in such a time that does not require every waking minute to be spent on productive tasks.
For centuries upon centuries, the Lord has been encouraging his people to take a break every now and then. Actually, his design was for us to take a break once a week. The concept of the Sabbath, or the seventh-day rest period, is extremely old; our biblical tradition says that even God himself rested after six days’ worth of creation. If God chooses to rest after a full work week, who are we to press on non-stop?
There is a danger here, though, for us to become like the Pharisees and require ourselves, our communities, and our entire culture to avoid any semblance of work on our Sabbath day (which, for Christians, is Sunday in honor of the day of Christ’s resurrection).
Jesus himself warns us about this tendency in Mark 2:27 – “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (NIV). This verse comes in the context of a challenge from the Pharisees that Jesus and his disciples were disobeying the Sabbath by picking heads of grain to munch on. Jesus reframes how we think about the Sabbath: instead of avoiding work one day a week because we want to please God by keeping the law, we should incorporate a regular period of rest into our lives for the sake of our health and well-being. If observing this period of rest means we pick some heads of grain instead of cooking a five-course meal, then so be it!
How do you observe the Sabbath? When was the last time you saw a break in the action? What would it take for you to step away from your responsibilities (but not from the Lord!) for a day or two? When will you do that next?