Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8
One final thought before we leave the twin topics of being still and keeping the Sabbath. I was in a youth ministry meeting recently at church and my friend Bill brought up an important Sabbath point. It’s easy for us to make excuses for filling our free time with “good” things, things like Bible studies and church meetings and ministries. But the bottom line remains the same no matter what we’re committing our free time to: people need rest and time to reflect on and spend time with God. The three small groups you are a part of are probably each good in and of themselves. And the church planning meetings you’re attending, or the elder board you’re serving on, are certainly accomplishing good work. And who can fault you for serving in the 4-year old Sunday school class twice a month? – they made a plea to the congregation because no one else is stepping up to minister to these little angels, so you said yes. All good things. All things worthy of your free time. But all too much when added together. There’s no way we can say yes to every good opportunity that comes our way and expect to find the physical and spiritual rest that God ordained in the Sabbath for us, and that He expects us to use to honor and glorify Him.
There are endless (literally) opportunities to do good things. But if we want to be excellent at what we do, we have to say “no” more often than “yes”. We have to protect the things we have prioritized – our marriages, our children, our time with God at home and in nature, the ministry (singular?) that we feel most led to – if we want to do them well and have some mental capacity left over at the end of the week.
We Americans have a tendency to spread ourselves much too thin, and in the end everyone around us, and everything we’re trying to accomplish, suffers. We need to learn to make being still and entering a weekly Sabbath rest priorities in our lives. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a cross-country road trip, not a quick drive to the grocery store. It’s backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, not day hiking the “family loop” at the local park. And it is going to require stamina and persistence and discernment on our part if we are going to reach the finish line.
Life is more like a long-distance trail run than the 300-meter hurdles.
In his book Crazy Busy pastor Kevin DeYoung says that modern Christians have bought into the secular notion that busier is better. He writes, “We are here and there and everywhere. We are distracted. We are preoccupied. We can’t focus on the task in front of us. We don’t follow through. We don’t keep our commitments. We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.”
DeYoung confesses, “I’ve been too busy to pursue God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength… the most serious threats are spiritual.”
Our busy lives not only threaten our physical health, relationships with loved ones, and our ability to excel. You see, our relationship with the Lord comes under attack when we say yes to everything.
The only solution to our crazy busy lives is a vibrant, intentional, and daily walk with our Creator.
Take-home point: When we’re crazy busy, everyone around us loses.
Take-home verse: Remember the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:8)
Questions for thought
Would you say your life is currently well balanced or out of balance?
What “good things” have you said “yes” to that fill your free time? Are you able to give them the full attention they deserve?
What “good things” might you need to say “no” to right now so that you can focus on the ones you want to say, or have already said, “yes” to?
Sometimes we confuse busyness for God with a relationship with God. How has your busyness affected your relationship with the Lord?
Gracious Father, in your wisdom you have not only suggested to us that we find times of stillness and rest, but you have commanded it. You know our hearts and you know that our tendency is to be busy and skip rest. But this leaves little time for you. Reveal to us your priorities for our lives where we are today, and give us the courage to cut back, to say no, and create mental and spiritual space to rest and recover and sit quietly in your presence. We long to be with you Lord, and we lack the wisdom to make it a priority in our lives. Give us wisdom and discernment and an overwhelming desire to simply be with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.