Rest For Those He Loves | Psalm 127:1-3
If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves? Psalm 127:1-3 | MSG
He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
There is a growing chorus of voices connecting with the ancient word about a weekly Sabbath – that it’s not enough just to take occasional “Sabbath” pit stops – five minutes here, maybe six minutes there, possibly 30 seconds over there. We need an actual day. Every week. We need a our own personal Stop Day. Matthew Sleeth calls it his prescription for a healthier, happier, life (and he doesn’t just play a doctor, he is one). And he has the stats to back up the claim. People who regularly stop for a whole day actually live longer – typically ten years longer. But when it comes down to it, it’s not about stopping to live longer or to be more productive or to be more holy because you stop on Saturdays rather than on Sundays (or rather than not at all). It’s about what is the essence of every spiritual practice: allowing ourselves to be in a place – in this case “in a palace in time” – where we can remember once again who He is, who we are, and what life is really all about. Otherwise we forget and are carried away on the rapids of our “clattering commerce.” Which is why we are told to remember the Sabbath. Stopping is actually a huge sign of our trust that it’s really not all about us with our ideas, plans, proposals, and projects after all. It’s a clear indicator we really do believe what today’s reading says: God is the one who is building the house, God is the one who is guarding the city. Or look at it this way. When God created humanity in the Genesis story, the first dawning full day of his life was not a workday. It was a Stop Day. We need to learn to stop.
Do you have a weekly “Stop Day” in your life? What would it look like if you did?
Lord, thank you for inviting me into rest, for inviting me to trust you and stop with you. Forgive me for so often blowing right by you in the forced momentums of my life. Teach me how to stop. Lead me into paths of true Sabbath of the soul. Through Jesus.
Commit to practicing your own personal Stop Day for the next six weeks – a day to dial down and disengage from normal routines as much as possible. See what happens. Try it.
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.