Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finding Down Time

“Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. The Lord asked Moses, “How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions?  They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day.” So the people did not gather any food on the seventh day.”  (Exodus 16:27-30)  NLT

How many hours a week do you work?  According to BillShrink, the average here in the United States is 35 hours a week. 

I’m guessing this is significantly skewed by part time workers.  Most people I know say that they work a lot more hours than 35.  Between 1999 and 2004, I worked for a software company in Roswell, GA.  Most people in my department worked between 50 and 75 hours per week, especially between 2000 and 2001.  The head of the department would actually walk around at 7:00 pm and look to see who was committed to making the dates.  I probably averaged between 50 and 60 hours per week myself for much of that time.  I was in my twenties and desperately wanted to make a good impression.  But I was burning myself out in a bad way.  I was working all through the weekend.  I even took my laptop on vacation with me that year.  One day in 2002, I actually went into the bathroom stall, leaned the top of my head against the wall, and fell asleep right there on the toilet.

But God doesn’t want us to live this way.  He wants us to work incredibly hard while we’re at work and play/rest incredibly hard when we’re not.  We have responsibilities at work, and we also have responsibilities at home.  That’s a lot of work when you add it all up!  We weren’t made to work constantly without down time.  When we read Genesis chapter 1, we see that God rested on the 7th day after spending 6 days creating the world around us.  He rested not because he needed it but as an example to us.  Eventually, God gave us the "Sabbath” (Saturday) and made it a day of rest for us.  Several passages in Exodus give us information about the Sabbath (Exodus 20:9-11, Exodus 16:27-30 shown above).   Our rest is clearly very important to God.  The day of rest has become a day of worship as well.  The early church eventually moved the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday because that was the day of the resurrection.  And, here we are. 

So the question is, what would a day of rest look like?  My wife and I have implemented a day of rest that looks like this:  On Saturday, we clean the house and prepare dinner ahead of time for Sunday.  I take out the trash the night before.  On Sunday, we use paper plates and plastic cups only.  Sunday is relaxing and fun.  We go to church and the rest of the day is spent playing with the 6 year old, swimming, resting, reading a book, etc.  Lunch is something quick (ex. soup and sandwiches, eating out, etc.).  It’s amazing what a difference it makes walking back into the office on Monday after having actually rested the day before.  I have more mental energy, better focus, etc.  I think that’s the point.  God knows what he’s doing, and he knows what we need.  When he tells us that we need rest and how often, maybe we should trust him and follow his leadership.

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