By Amanda White
“Snooze, you lose.” I just said this while sitting in my car the other day, to a person in another car waiting to turn left onto a very busy street as school was letting out. It was one of those moments when you realize there’s a missed opportunity.
Recently, I’ve been reading in the Old Testament. My favorite commandment is described in Deuteronomy 5:12 “Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
It’s a tough one. I can avoid murdering someone or stealing, but taking time to rest in a world that demands I keep moving? That sounds nearly impossible.
And, this ability to observe Sabbath is important for every breathing, living thing. All of creation requires space to rest and regenerate.
Sabbath rest doesn’t simply mean that you sit still, not move, and only meditate. It’s much more than that. Walter Brueggemann describes Sabbath in his book, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, observing,
The Sabbath rest of God is the acknowledgment that God and God’s people in the world are not commodities to be dispatched for endless production … Rather, they are subjects situated in an economy of neighborliness.
In other words, God taking Sabbath demonstrates to us that our relationship with God is not about how many hours we can put in for God — or for others. We aren’t simply tools to get projects done. We are made for connecting with one another.
But, instead we produce. We compete to be noticed. We compete for feedback. We compete for money. We compete for all of it. And, it slowly becomes more and more about ourselves.
But faith isn’t just about ourselves, is it? It never is — read God’s stories. Every person in the biblical narrative is part of a greater story, a greater community. We are, too.
The rest of the Sabbath commandment says, “You shall not do any work — you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you.”
That last part, “May rest as well as you,” is important. If the boss never takes a break, then how are the employees getting one?
We are called to make sure that everyone else ALSO gets Sabbath. Let’s all be part of the resistance of the “now” culture!
Life may feel like a series of competitions, but we don’t have to compete for God to love us. We don’t have to seek awards or accolades. We can rest and know that God also rests. We can be grateful. We can say to ourselves, “It’s okay. If I take some time to pray or to pick pumpkins, or visit my mother, my world will not fall apart.”
Remember, God created everything, which is a TON of work! “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31, NRSV).
God gives us that gift. So, why would we let that gift sit around unopened?