I was challenged the other day in class to consider the importance of Sabbath keeping. I don’t have any inner resistance to the idea of deliberately taking a day of rest. But I’m like everyone else – just too busy to pull it off. Or at least, that’s my excuse. And it’s not entirely invalid. I’m a full-time graduate student, a part-time employee, a single-mother, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, and so on. When I went back to school several years ago, I gave up my regular Sabbath-keeping in order to pull off getting an education. It may have been necessary. But I paid a price for that within myself that I am still paying.
The admonition in class was full of compelling arguments. Woven into the fabric of the created order is the need for a day of rest. God rested. All of creation was designed for a cycle of rest. Setting apart a day of rest is one of the ten commandments. Is there any other of the nine commandments that you would break unrepentantly and claim impunity? To refuse a day of rest is to fight against the very fiber of how you were made, in the image of God who modeled rest and commanded rest. Our culture is obviously suffering from our collective refusal to stop and rest. The pressure that is on families and children to always be going and doing, with little or no time when that pressure is removed, is contributing to stress disorders in children. And for people in ministry, burnout is inevitable for those who refuse to take a day of restoration.
I asked one of my carpool friends, who happens to be a pastor, if he takes a day of rest each week and his story was compelling. He credited his discipline in this area to saving his marriage and his ministry. He strictly makes himself unavailable to everyone but his wife from Friday night to Saturday night every week. No homework. No chores. No phone calls. No e-mail. He described it with joy.
Theology always has implications for the real world – the way people actually live. I’m compelled to consider my own theology of Sabbath keeping and its implications for the way that I actually live.