So, what’s so important about Sabbath? From the beginning of recorded time, the importance of taking a day of rest has been stressed as vital to the human condition. Yet here we are, busier than ever before and growing more busy every day. All the new technology that we have that helps to make our lives easier—Facebook, Twitter, texting, cell phones, instant messaging—are the same things that bleed into the time that used to be set aside for rest. Instead of taking time to wind down and reconnect with our families, we are in a constant state of “on.” This constant pull to be in work mode may seem beneficial on the surface, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
With each passing day, we demand that our businesses be open around the clock. I mean, really, who needs a cheeseburger at 4am? But that’s what we have done. We feel the need to be on the go all the time, and that means having businesses that meet our needs. The problem is that these businesses need people to operate. And those people have families. Before you know it, the parents are like ships in the night that only pass as one comes home from work and the other is leaving. Together time is sparse to non-existent, and rest is simply out of the question. I know that we live in a time of economic hardship, and I recognize that people have to take care of their families the best way they can, but we still need to recognize our need for rest – for Sabbath.
The founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, faced a similar dilemma when he was opening his first business. During the early years of his first restaurant, he made himself available 24 hours a day, even renting a house next to the diner to make it easier for him to be reached. As business grew, he invested all his money and time into the success of his new venture. His future was on the line, literally. If he failed, he would lose everything. At this critical moment, he made a decision. He says it best in his book, Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People:
“We were not so committed to financial success, however, that we were willing to abandon our principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this was our decision to close on Sunday. Ben and I had attended Sunday school and church all our lives, and we were not about to stop just because we owned a restaurant. Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring god and directing our attention to things more important than our business. If it took seven days a week to make a living with a restaurant, then we needed to be in some other line of work. Through the years I have never wavered from that position.”
What initially seemed to be a risk has turned out to be one of the most successful restaurant ventures in America. Taking a day to rest in his business has benefited his bottom line. Your reason for taking a day of rest may not be the same as Truett’s, but rest you should.
We were designed to work, and work hard. But we were also designed to have a day of rest. I make it a point to rest and worship on Sundays, and encourage my friends and family to do the same. I hope you do, too.
This year I have decided to go through the Bible in a Chronological pattern. I must shamefully admit that I have never succeeded in following through on one of these reading plans. I found this great application on my Blackberry phone, and I was so impressed, I just had to share it. They have a website, too. As always – IF IT’S FREE, IT’S FOR ME! So I wanted to share what I found and encourage you to start the journey, too. There are more than 20 reading plans and several different options for time, and every version of the Bible imaginable to read from! There is a place to journal as you go through the reading and then if you would like to participate in the community aspect, they have a place for that, too! Truly, one of the best websites I have ever come across. I hope to find some of you there!
Usually when I read the Bible, I have a tendency to let my research curiosity take over and I end up cross referencing, back tracking, getting exegetical and otherwise just chasing down red herrings. I enjoy that! I learn so much that way, but I wanted to approach the scriptures a little differently this time. I want to simply stay in the moment. My plan is to simply document the thoughts and questions that occur to me during the course of the reading. Not to look for hidden meanings and answers, but simply to bask in the Word of God and to let it wash over me and envelope me completely. As such, there may or may not be any flow to the thoughts. I love to hear what scripture says to other people, so I am hoping that these entries will spark a dialogue with others.
And so the journey begins. I have decided to use The Message as my version of choice for this trip. I like the artistry of the language and I am looking forward to seeing new things as I travel down this familiar, well-travelled road. Let’s go!
First thing: The language of the Message is so colorful. I love the expression that the Earth was a soup of nothingness! Immediately followed by “God’s Spirit brooded like a bird…” What does that mean? The dictionary says: “4. (of a bird) to warm, protect, or cover (young) with the wings or body.” The imagery there is comforting. I can imagine the Lord looking down over the vastness with love, and covering the yet unformed earth in a protective embrace. He had not yet made us, but His love and attention was already focused and protective. Something really settles into my spirit about the concept of “covering.” The imagery elicited, from a bird protecting it’s nest, to God covering Moses with his hand, to the mother at Pompei who used her body to cover her child. The idea is amazing – protective, nurturing, comforting, peaceful.
Day Six in the creation landscape – God’s work so far has been like a painting. At first, broad strokes to cover great amounts of canvas, setting the stage for the finer work. With each passing creative expression, the work becomes more detailed and fine. The penultimate expression of God’s handiwork is revealed on this day. He created humans. He made us godlike! I wonder why He would do this? The way He created us, we REFLECT His nature. We are like the moon – we have no light source of our own, but we appear to shine because we mirror the light of the sun.
We just had a beautiful natural phenomenon occur over New Years‘ festivities. Our eyes were directed heavenward to behold the wonder that is a Blue Moon, or the second full moon in a month. It’s a fairly rare occurrence, made to seem even more important because it coincided with the beginning of a new year. It was easy to romanticize and marvel at the moon. I took several pictures and had my fair share of Lunar Lookiloo-itude. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold. The way that the glow illuminated the night sky was truly breathtaking. I found myself captivated by the sight of it, marveling at it’s magnificence. But the truth is, the moon has no power of it’s own. The ethereal qualities that we attribute to her are not her own. She is merely a mirror. She is so perfectly suited to reflect the true source of light – the sun, that sometimes we place credit where none is due. That’s what we are supposed to be. A vehicle of reflection – we are mirrors. We shine back the true source of light – the Son. Because the light is so beautiful, even in reflection, sometimes we give credit where none is due. Without the warming beams of the sun’s glow, the moon is just a rock. Without the loving glow of the Son’s touch, we humans are just animals. It is the REFLECTIVE qualities of being created godlike that make us so beautiful to behold.
God’s Ultimate act of creation: a day of rest. I think that just as we are sometimes overly impressed with the majesty of the moon, we are equally enamoured with our own existence. However, if we continue with the analogy of a painting, the final act is knowing when to stop. The best artists know when to step back from their creation and say – It is finished. They put down the paintbrush, then pause for a moment and just soak it in. That is the ultimate act of creation. God, ever the consummate artist, steps back from His creation and says – It’s done. It’s complete. He takes a step back, and breathes a sigh of satisfaction and simply takes in His handiwork. He allows Himself to enjoy what He’s just made. Oh, would that we would reflect that attribute of our Creator! This is the ultimate expression of creation because it allows us to enjoy the created. To revel in the completion of a task. To recuperate and recover from the process of doing. In addition to polishing up my reflective qualities, this is an attitude I long to embrace in the new year!
This season in my life, I have been reawakened to my desire to be partnered with a man. I don’t know what it is about Christians in particular that they feel the need to devalue or debase any desires that we have. As if desiring something is inherently bad. I have fallen into that mindset myself to a degree and often have chastised myself for wanting to be married. However this time through the scriptures, I am seeing that there is cause for the feelings I have experienced and am experiencing. Simply in verse 23. One word. Man says – FINALLY! Oh the implications and power in that one word! Here is a creation, situated in a perfect existence. Newly made, fresh off the line so to speak, all his parts are still shiny and new, but when he is presented with woman as a companion – man says “Finally!!” There is something within us that God created to desire fellowship with each other on an intimate level. So why is it that when we express that same feeling of anticipation, our “well-meaning” brothers and sisters imply (or some come right out and say) that we are being somehow less. That we should be content in our situation. That’s not the way I’m reading this.
Bear with me for the following metaphor – back when I was a child, we had thermometers with mercury in them. Invariably one would break and the silvery substance would spill out and puddle together. Curiosity would always overtake me, and I would collect the spilled contents into my hand. The mercury would bead up, and each little ball was perfect in it’s own right. But once two of the tiny rounds came into proximity of each other, there was an undeniable attraction that drew them into each other to reform into a new, larger, but still perfectly formed ball. There was no distinction between the old droplets and the new drop. They were capable of existing perfectly on their own, but given the opportunity, they were more suited to coalesce. The fact that one property of mercury is to desire to come together does not hinder it’s effectiveness. It doesn’t make it a weaker element. In fact, it is one of the traits of mercury that makes it unique. We are that way. We are made of the same stuff, and our natural inclination – a byproduct of our creation – is to be drawn to each other in an attempt to commingle or to cleave as the KJV calls it. This is not good or bad. It just is.
Obviously – my mind is focused on this subject, because what I feel the Lord revealing to me is primarily about the same subject matter. Chapter 3, verse 16 – the last line in the verse speaks volumes to the classic struggle between male and female. We want to please our husbands, and the the husbands will want to use that to rule over us. No wonder we can’t understand each other. It’s a product of the fall. I wonder if a couple who have been saved by grace can then go back and pray against the consequences of that first sin? Is it possible to reverse that curse? Hmmm. I wonder.