My friend Ashley says that if I don't get a day's worth of Sabbath every week, I will be pretty much worthless. "You've got to take care of yourself," she says, "so that you will be able to provide care for others." In fact, she has said this to me so frequently that I sometimes hear her voice in my mind, like the incessant drone of a moralistic lawnmower buzzing in the weedy recesses of my subconscious.
If Ashley is right (and I know that she is), I've got some catching up to do. I haven't had a true sabbath day of rest for at least three weeks now, and I am starting to feel it. Take today, for example. Today pretty much kicked my butt. Three people to visit with medical situations, two hours with a family in crisis, problems with our building project, two different calls from two people who just needed someone to talk with, bills to sign off, sermon to write - just one thing after another after another. By 6:30 I was so drained, I had nothing left for my family. I had to just lie down on the couch and sleep.
I don't want to have nothing left in my tank for my wife and kids when I get home from work. I want to be a good husband, a good dad. I managed to get a few cuddly minutes with my daugther when I tucked her in a couple of hours ago, and I treasure moments like that. But I need a serious "chunk of sabbath," as my friend Laura calls it. Time to recharge. Time to renew. Time to just live without having to act.
I'm not just whining, either. This sabbath rest is serious stuff. God actually COMMANDS us to do it. "There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD." (Leviticus 23:3) There it is ... in black and white ... "you are not to do any work." The LORD says it! And it is not a suggestion!
My work as an ordained minister requires there to be days like today. It is called ministry, and I am called to be a minister. I do not begrudge any of the people I was with today of their need for my presence. Please do not misunderstand. The fault is my own. I am the one not taking enough sabbath time for myself, says the moralistic lawnmower droning in my mind. The time is there, if I will just leave it alone. Instead, I find myself filling it up.
I want some time to live without acting. Yes, to live ...
Yearning for Sabbath,