Step Out of the Traffic | Psalm 46:8-11
Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.” Psalm 46:8-11 | MSG
The seventh day is a palace in time which we build…How else express glory in the presence of eternity, if not by the silence of abstaining from noisy acts? These restrictions (from “noisy acts”) utter songs to those who know how to stay at a palace with a queen. It is one thing to race or be driven by the vicissitudes that menace life, and another thing to stand still and to embrace the presence of an eternal moment….In the tempestuous ocean of time and toil there are islands of stillness where man may enter a harbor and reclaim his dignity. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
A palace in time that we build. An island of stillness where we reclaim our dignity. In Heschel’s book The Sabbath he details the Greek and Roman response to the Jewish practice of Sabbath – a response that could perhaps best be summarized in one word: absurd. It’s a word echoing with Pharaoh’s ancient accusation: “Lazy, that’s what you are! Lazy!” How inefficient, how irresponsible, how unproductive. Philo, the ancient spokesman of Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria, tried to defend to the practice of Sabbath, of stopping for one day a week, by arguing that it enhanced a man’s productivity for the rest of the week. Heschel counters, “The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work…The Sabbath is not for the sake of weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. It is not an interlude but the climax of living.” This is the heart of Psalm 46. We get so caught up in our own superhighway of productive and recreational pursuits (yes, few things can be more exhausting than the vacations we plan or the sports we play!), that we generally manage to only switch gears at best. Stopping and taking in the roadside vista of Sabbath isn’t even part of life’s equation for us anymore, let alone the whole point of the trip. We need to learn how to stop. Again.
When you are driving, how often do you stop at a roadside vista, get out of the car, and take in the view? How often do you do this in life?
Lord, draw me out today from the chaos and ceaseless motion of life, to step out of the traffic and take a long, loving look at you, and to bask in the knowledge that you are God. Show me how to stop.
Sometime today, step out of the traffic of your routines, no matter how ill you think you can afford to and stop. If possible sit outside. Put away the cell phone. Don’t bring anything to work on either, in your head or in your hand. Stop. For five minutes. Repeat to yourself quietly as you do: “Be still and know that I am God…”
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.