Friday, October 2, 2009

Why I Practice Sabbath-Keeping

I am troubled by the fact that I have to schedule times with friends at least two, if not three weeks in advance to fit into each other’s schedules.

I am troubled by the fact that so many kids today live lives that are as heavily scheduled as many adults.

I am troubled when couples tell me that they often don’t get to reconnect with each other until after 10 at night.

I am troubled when single people tell me they don’t have time to date.

I am troubled when folks tell me that their work load is so great that they have to make a choice between attending a church meeting or coming to worship (a side note: if work is that demanding, always err on the side of attending worship).

I am troubled that all these technological devices which are supposed to allow us to work anywhere have resulted in us working everywhere.

I am troubled by all of this because many of us are going through life terribly off-balanced.

We are overloaded, overworked, overcommitted, overanxious, overextended and overwhelmed, .

I recently read a book by Steve and Mary Farrar that described the contemporary American lifestyle that contributes to overload as deficit living. They wrote, “Overloaded people live in deficit—emotional, relational, or spiritual. When our checking accounts are overdrawn, we experience immediate stress and pressure, don’t we? It sets off an adrenal rush to find a way to immediately cover that shortfall. But where do you find a surplus when you’re already short? Where do you get money when you’re completely out?

“It’s also possible to get overdrawn in life. When we are overwhelmed, we find ourselves living in deficit—emotional deficit, relational deficit, spiritual deficit. We get overdrawn in our relationships and overdrawn with our kids. We run out of currency—the emotional and relational “cash” that it takes to live life well. And before long we begin to get anxious and panicky, because we think there is no way out.”
(from Overcoming Overload by Steve and Mary Farrar, Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books. 2003)

This deficit living is one reason why I try to observe a Sabbath every week. Sabbath is a time for me to unplug, keep my calendar empty, and do nothing that is even vaguely related to "have to" "must do" or "should do". Sabbath helps me breathe unconstricted, stretch my body and my soul, and relearn the rhythm of grace in my life again. Sabbath is a time of reconnection: with God, with those I love, with myself.

The weeks I fail to observe Sabbath, I feel as if I am running on empty and out of sync with myself and God. By keeping Sabbath, I ensure that in my busy, overextended life I have made room for God. And God never fails to show up in the midst of my Sabbath to sustain me the rest of the week.

Do you observe Sabbath?

What difference does it make in your life?

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