POSTED ON APRIL 7, 2010:
Give It a Rest
Slowing yourself in a fast-paced world
You've got to keep the pedal to the metal. Anything less than full throttle is settling for second best. These very thoughts and phrases that I once believed, I now find ridiculously deceiving.
Since most people associate busyness with productivity, we believe to be worthwhile or successful, we've got to keep it running 24/7. That might work for the person who is in it for the sprint, but that just doesn't work for the marathon.
You take that philosophy into a marathon, and you find yourself hunched over at the 15-mile marker convincing yourself that this is exactly what hell must be like. In any long distance race, it's all about finding your rhythm. You must find that steady pace or rhythm that can sustain you throughout the race.
This can be difficult, if not downright impossible, in a fast-paced world where we find something to fill each available time slot. We've got the kids school event, and that business proposal next week, not to mention the things that need to be done around the house. There's always work to be done -- always. Understanding that each person has limits is the first step in the process of finding your rhythm. We are finite people with limited human capacities that require stops. It's not optional.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus would always introduce ideas that would seem completely idiotic to the natural mind. These paradoxes of the kingdom of God were two seemingly contradictory terms that actually presented a truth. For example, on numerous occasions, Christ tells us that "the first will be last, and the last will be first." Only in the context of the kingdom of God does that make any sense. Those who humble themselves and consider themselves last are actually elevated to the front in the eyes of God.
The concept of Sabbath is something that is introduced throughout the Old and New Testament and is actually a paradox. It doesn't really make sense except in the context of the kingdom of God. We have been created in the image of God, and just like God, we have been created to work and then rest. In Exodus 20:8-10 it reads,
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work."
We actually honor God when we choose to take time off to be refreshed and rejuvenated. The discipline of the Sabbath is a step of faith when an individual understands that a short rest will actually increase productivity. That's right. A proper understanding of Sabbath means REST = PRODUCTIVITY.
Sabbath not only increases productivity, it allows the person to stop and reflect on the important things in life. Remember that Sabbath is more than just a rest, it is a time for you find to rejuvenate yourself spiritually in order to prepare yourself for the work to come. It's a discipline, and it's hard work. You must be intentional and strategic about finding those things that rejuvenate you. It might mean getting away for a few hours with a book or blocking off three hours where it's just you and the family.
Your family, your marriage, your friendships, your job performance will only be strengthened when you stop and take a Sabbath. This rest is designed to remind us what life is about and who it is for. Sabbath is God's way of saying to us, "Stop, Notice your limits and don't burn out."
Matt Nelson is the lead pastor of City Church Tulsa.
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