One thing that is challenging for every person on staff is the need to have a sabbath day; a day of rest. Yesterday at baptism, my friend Cheryl Tomandl asked how I was doing with making sure I had a day of rest each week. I shrugged it off, smiled and said something about it being a really busy season. New series, new thematic goal, new small groups, major reorganization of music teams, jump in attendance, on and on and on.
But her question stuck with me. I thought back to last week, when I sat in the office on Friday morning (a day that MOST of the staff takes as a Sabbath day) and watched as, one by one, my coworkers came into the office. Some were there to offer counseling, have meetings, pick up work that hadn't gotten finished on Thursday, take work home to complete over the weekend...almost everybody cruised by at some point.
We work hard. There's so much to do - it seems, at times, as if we have no choice. But after Cheryl's question yesterday, I thought a bit more about the idea of sabbath. It seems so optional - I'm confessing here - as in the idea that I'll take a sabbath if I can spare the time. And yet there's no presumption of choice when it comes to whether or not it is right to steal, kill, lie or commit adultery. Those thing are wrong.
Ironic, isn't it, that the list of God's ten commandments to his people include one that we conveniently ignore? And, like the others, it's obvious that doing so is to our own detriment.
Somewhere, I have read that refusing to rest from your work - especially in ministry - is the ultimate in arrogance. As if we believe that God cannot accomplish his purposes without our help or influence.
I decided last night to take today as a Sabbath day when it comes to my job responsibilities. For the most part, it has been a successful attempt. I have not answered the emails, even as I see them piling up in my inbox (thanks to my smart phone). I have not spent mental energy thinking about church.
Here's what I did do:
- I refrained from arguing when Tony turned off my alarm and got up with the kids for school. I kept sleeping. I will confess that I slept until 10:55 AM - serious sleep, not the "wake up and decide to stay in bed for a while longer" thing. I did not wake up until almost 11:00 AM. And I went to bed at 11:00 PM. What does that tell me about my physical condition? I have to assume that I slept that late because I needed rest. So I'm not going to feel ashamed or embarrassed about that, even though I know my mom is reading this (insert sheepish grin. Sorry, Mom!)
- I sat on the deck with a cup of coffee and watched three or four leaves float lazily through the air. I think they're bailing out early, but fall is upon us. I thought about life and death and how short the span is if you're a leaf.
- I washed, folded and put away clothes. Four loads at this point.
- I cleaned the kitchen.
- I sorted a pile of school papers and mail; clipped some coupons.
- I continued to check on Syd, who is home sick with that head cold/crud that's going around.
- I listened to two episodes of This American Life. I love stories. And I am an NPR geek.
I'm not sure why this is so difficult for me, to stop doing, even for a 24 hour period. It is. But I'm determined to rethink my lack of attention to this - not simply to "take a day off", but to tend to my soul and my family with more intentional actions.
And to stop doing.
The photo above is from a lighthouse at the Outer Banks, shot on our honeymoon in December. That was the last, best time away I can recall - true Sabbath time. My soul was filled.