There seems to be a never-ending challenge for people today – trying to find a rhythm to their lives. The greatest enemy we have today is busyness. This enemy wraps itself in good intentions and necessary obligations and works its way into the lives of people. Before they know it, days, weeks, months and years have passed without giving the necessary time to the most important relationships in their lives. Sound familiar?
My husband recently taught an outstanding message entitled “First Things First.” This teaching really captured my heart and caused me to take personal inventory of my life and priorities. I made some adjustments and I continue to contend to keep “first things first” in all areas of my life. During this time of inventory, I began to reflect on the many times I have encountered people trying to “keep it all together” as they struggled in their relationships, priorities, daily life and the call of God. As I thought about this dilemma, I heard within me “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” Then I thought to myself, “Whatever happened to Sundays?”
In the busyness of our lives we have sacrificed many things and one of them is time to fellowship with old and new friends. When I was growing up, my house was a whirlwind of wonderful activity. There were my two sisters, my father who worked two jobs, my mother and me. We were very involved in our church but my parents always had time for “company” -- family, neighbors, friends, and the friend-of-a-friend who we didn’t even know. There was always something wonderful cooking and always more than enough for anyone who dropped by the house. Everyone was welcome in our home and they knew it. The word was out – you can always go to the Calabrese’s house. A lot of ministry happened around that kitchen table over a cup of coffee and a cannoli. People shared their hearts, felt loved, valuable and at home. They knew my parents cared and they could trust them with their deepest secrets.
These days, a lot has changed. We just don’t seem to have time for each other or even our families. Life is just way too busy and our lives need to be simplified. You might be thinking, “Sure, Verna - easier said than done.” It isn’t meant to be hard if we follow the pattern set for us.
There is a reason God set a pattern for us and worked six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-3). There is a reason the human body and mind needs rest, and refreshing. There is a reason the spirit of man needs refueling and replenishing. They are all laws God set in motion so we would run our race, impact our world, and finish our course. God never created us to be on the go 365 days of the year, yet people ignore His laws and continue to push themselves beyond reasonable limits and then wonder why they aren’t experiencing the presence of God in their lives. They wonder why they have no joy. They wonder why their family relationships are suffering. They wonder why weariness has attached itself to them and why, amidst all the activity in their lives, there is little accomplishment. How much of our lives are full of things that have no eternal value at all? When does God get what is due Him? When do we make the time to nurture relationships and enlarge our circle of love to embrace new friends? When do we have fun, laugh and really enjoy life?
Webster’s dictionary defines “life” as “the interval between birth and death or the quality by which living organisms are distinguished from dead organisms.” Take a moment to think about that. Our lives are the interval of time between birth and death. What are you doing with your interval of time? Are you doing what you want to do or are you doing what God has purposed for you to do? If you are living life according to your plan, then you are merely existing. If you are living life according to God’s plan, then you are really living.
What does this have to do with Sundays? The Sabbath was designed to be a day dedicated to the Lord, rest from our labors and time for reflection. Exodus 20:8-10 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God…” The Taylor translation of verse 9 says, “Six days a week are for your daily duties.” The Moffatt translation of that same verse says, “...and do all your business.” The Knox translation of vs. 10(a) says “…when the seventh day comes, it is a day of rest, consecrated to the Lord thy God….” Mark 2:27 says, “the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man, not man for the Sabbath.” It is to our benefit to take one day a week to come together for corporate worship, hear the Word of God, have a meal with family and friends, rest and reflect. This one day of rest and reflection can set the course right for the week to come. First things first.
Remember the saying, “You have to stop and smell the roses?” Unfortunately, people are rushing past the roses on their way to something “important” and aren’t even aware the roses are there! When is the last time you noticed how blue the sky is, or how green the grass is, or how beautiful your family is? When is the last time you praised God for the gift He has given you in your pastor or for your church or for the job He has blessed you with? When is the last time you invited a newcomer to your home for a meal, picked someone up for Church, or blessed someone with a phone call, card or a meal? When is the last time you stopped to watch children playing in the park, or thanked God for the incredible harmonies in a worship song or just lifted your hands just to spin around in absolute joyful glee at the wonder of Him? We have made it all way too complicated! Ecclesiastes 7:29 (TEV) “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.”
Does the Sabbath have to be observed on Sunday? Not necessarily, but the spirit of the Sabbath must be observed and kept holy – a day consecrated to the Lord. Jesus said it well to Martha in Luke 10:38-39. Martha was upset to see Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while she was running around trying to make it all “perfect.” Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; there is need of only one, Mary has chosen the good portion – that which is to her advantage – which shall not be taken away from her.” What is to our advantage? The same action as Mary took– sitting at His feet. Martha was over-occupied or too busy. Being occupied is not bad. Being over-occupied is! Being busy is not bad, but being too busy is! Being busy does not make you better. Your salvation is based on what Christ did, not on how much you do! Intimacy with Jesus must be our number one quest in life.
Out of that time of rest and reflection comes the increased ability to find your rhythm of life. Staying in tune with Him will cause you to hear His promptings, and respond to His attempts to draw you. You will become more sensitive to His voice and more sensitive to the people around you. One moment in His presence can change everything.
I recently found this Japanese version of the 23rd Psalm and I know it will bless you as it has blessed me.
The Lord is my pacesetter – I shall not rush.
He makes me stop for quiet intervals.
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret for His presence is here.
His timelessness, His all importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows!
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruit of my hours for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His house forever!
So, when is your Sabbath this week?