BY ANDREW MARSHALL
This is the fifth in a series of posts.
“Hey, how are you? How is life treating you?”
“You know how it is, just busy!”
Does this sound familiar? This is probably the number one response I hear from people when I ask how life is going for them. Everyone is busy.
Busyness is seen as a badge of honor in our culture. If you are not busy, you are lazy, and not providing value to our society. The more you are doing, the more value you have as a human.
These are all lies.
What if busyness were the cause of so many unwanted things in our lives? What if we gave up busyness for Lent?
Variations of “Satan’s Agenda,” a scene from a play written circa 1998 by Geraldine Harris and Kristen Maddox, have popped up all over the Internet. For today’s devotion, I find it quite interesting:
Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said:
We can’t keep Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth…But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience in CHRIST. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.
So let them go to church…but steal their time, so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!
“How shall we do this?” shouted the angels.
“Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent un-numbered schemes to occupy their minds,” Satan answered.
Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince [them] to work 6 or 7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their families fragment, soon, very soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.
Overstimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, the VCR, and their CDs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that fellowship with Christ.
I want to offer a suggestion for the busy Pilgrim: Sabbath rest!
When I say Sabbath, I do not mean a legalistic day that we refrain from happiness and nitpick over what we can and cannot do. I am offering a solution that will bring rest to your soul, connection in your family, and nourishment from God our Father.
I believe we have forgotten about Sabbath in order to do all that God calls us to do — all with good intentions. Yet, with all this technological advancement, we are burned out and lack any spiritual influence in our communities. I believe we are losing our witness because our lives are falling apart from doing too much.
We need to take time to rest. God has given us permission to rest. Sabbath is built into the makeup of creation:
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [emphasis added], because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:1-3, NKJV).
Sabbath was the first thing God set apart as holy and sanctified. Rest needs to be taken seriously if we believe we are to take part in building God’s kingdom. How can we do so when we are stressed out, anxious, and depressed?
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and is our example of rest. He had the grandest task in all of history: Redeem the world from the penalty of sin and bring reconciliation to all mankind. In his public ministry, he spent a lot of time alone, praying, walking, and even napping (napping on the boat in the storm). If God the Father took time to rest, if Jesus our Savior took time to rest, shouldn’t we?
How can we incorporate rest into our lives? I want to offer some suggestions:
- Pick a day to make your Sabbath (yes a whole day, you need it) and put it on your calendar. If you really can’t take a day, start with half a day or a period of the day.
- Get all you can done before your Sabbath so you can rest and start with a small ceremony; light some candles, listen to a worship song, read a poem or passage of scripture.
- Rest- take a walk, hike in the woods, swim, enjoy nature, take a nap, make love to your spouse, play a board game with your kids, go to the park, visit a museum, go out to eat, whatever brings you life and is not work. I personally love my Sabbath hammock nap.
- Spend time with God alone or with your family and friends. Talk about your faith, sing songs, read scripture. Or just give him thanks throughout your time of rest
- End your Sabbath with another small ceremony, maybe journal your thoughts, blow out that candle.
I hope you take serious the gift of rest and go out there and do less for the kingdom of God, so Jesus can do more through you.
ANDREW MARSHALL is a 33 year-old husband to his beautiful wife, daddy to 3 crazy kids, living in Chesapeake, VA. He is currently a Youth Director at Great Bridge Presbyterian Church and volunteers with Young Life. His passions include music and learning any instrument he can get his hands on and sharing that passion with others, whether at church, at a bar, or online with Youtube and Instagram (@musicmandrew). He loves Jesus and wants others to love Jesus as much or more than he does.