As you can see from blogs part one and part two on rest, healthy Sabbathing requires us to look at a lot of deeper issues in our lives. It takes six days of preparation to have one true Sabbath. We must plan ahead. Rest is not a passive activity. Quite often, it requires just as much preparation as a job interview. So, in part three of our series, allow me to share three more diseases that prevent us from having a great day off. And the first one is this:
(1). An inability to Say No: An inability to “say no” is really the symptom of two greater diseases. There’s the “people-pleasing” side of the disease; then, there’s the part that results from a failure to internalize your purpose. For example, It’s easy to say no to things when you have a “bigger Yes” burning inside. Every day, when I go into my office, I have to pass through the Substance coffee shop. Of course, there are always fun people to talk with; yet, I’m busy enough where, to stop and talk means that I’m going to be writing my sermon on my day off. Thus, my “bigger yes” (enjoying my day off) automatically trumps my desire to stand around and get chatty. In fact, many of us struggle with temptation because we haven’t fully internalized the bigger vision of what God has for us.
So, here are a few questions for you: In what areas of your life are you over-committed, and why? Do you really have clarity about how you should be spending your time? Did you internalize these values at the start of your day? If you can’t clearly answer these questions, you will be tossed about by every wave of distraction the devil can send at you. Which leads to the next issue:
(2). Anxiety-Driven Busyness: Quite often, the reason why we strive is because, deep down, we don’t trust in God. We think: If “I don’t, it won’t.” And this sinful tendency is part of what God had in mind when he instigated the Sabbath in the first place.
To combat this impulse, it’s important to start every day with prayer. In 1 Thess. 1 we see Paul talking about “producing work through faith” as opposed to sweat. Or to paraphrase James, “the prayers of righteous people get things done” (James 5:16).
I vividly remember having a huge to-do list one day. I was so anxious about getting it all done that I was tempted to skip my quiet time with God. Against my emotions, I decided to spend time connecting with God. As I prayed, my phone kept buzzing with texts from various people; yet still, I continued to connect with God. By the time I ended, I checked my phone to discover that half of my meetings had been cancelled. Indeed, many of the problems I was going to solve that day had been supernaturally resolved (which is why people were texting me.) So, it’s important to consider that, just maybe, God wants to solve your situation through means other than “sweat.” After all, he LOVES getting more glory like that.
Or maybe you have a bigger problem altogether, and it’s this:
(3). A False Vision of Happiness: Many of the things we strive after won’t give us happiness anyway. That’s why Paul said, “if you want great gain in life, try godliness mixed with contentment” (1 Tim. 6:6). I.e., it sounds counter intuitive to try “contentment” as the true source of happiness. But in a culture that idolatrously believes that “more is always better,” we’d be smart to consider the Bible’s advice.
Almost every time I’ve reached a burnout moment in my life, it’s been due to desires and unrealistic expectations that fell outside of God’s plan for me. Good ideas aren’t necessarily “God-Ideas.” And when we fall short of our self-imposed goals, we experience all sorts of emotions that God never planned for us.
So when was the last time you stopped and really considered the question: “Do i really need what im striving after?” …What if I’ve got all I need for pure joy right here and now?” The truth is, you DO! Thus, the real question is this: Why aren’t you tapping into that joy right now?
“Your soul finds rest in God alone” (Psm 62:1). So let’s start living like it. Jesus said that “running after things” is the chief indicator of a pagan… a person who lacks a generous Heavenly Father (Mt. 6). So, God bids us to “put him first” through rest.
Besides, you wouldn’t break the other Nine Commandments, would you? Yet, what few people realize is this: If you break the Sabbath, you’re much more likely to break the others. Even more, we serve a God who “never sleeps.” That means, it’s O.K. if you and I take rest now and again. After all, “he grants sleep [or, rest] to those he loves” (Psm 127). So let’s make sure we receive his gift of rest this week. Amen?