September 06, 2008


Being a pastor, like any other vocation, has its advantages and disadvantages. The flexible schedule that I am allowed most days is definitely an advantage ... but it can also be a disadvantage. Work can easily follow me home, holding my attention through the evening, and staying with me through the night.

Fortunately, scripture is helpful in this. Scripture describes this thing called "Sabbath," the day of rest. Lately, my Bible reading has made me realize just how important the concept of Sabbath is in scripture. I don't think many of us take the command to keep the Sabbath holy, set apart as a day of rest, seriously. It's important for us in the 21st century to be productive, and if we're not at "work," then we're working at home. But the scripture is clear: even during the planting and harvest season--even during the busiest time of year--it's important to set aside one day for rest.

I spend much of my time in various states of anxiety. It's nothing that would be considered abnormal in American society, but that's the point: we are anxious, stressed-out people. And this anxiety and stress is making us old. Science has proved that your body ages faster the more stress you have. The Sabbath is God's gift to us, to help keep us young, to help us enjoy life more. We don't exist for the Sabbath; the Sabbath is for us (Mark 2:27).

A Sabbath rest can be taken in many ways. For me, the best Sabbath rest is a day spent in nature, walking beside a stream, running beside rice fields or ocean waves, or just watching how the breeze moves the leaves in the trees. It can be spent alone or with family and friends; ideally, it involves both, some time alone, and some time with others. And at the end of the day, I can actually feel my heartbeat slowing down, my breathing relaxing and deepening. And I am in a much better state of mind to do the work I need to do the other days of the week.

nature trail

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