We All Need Down Time


God commanded you, not suggested—to keep the Sabbath “holy,” separate, apart from the other days. But where do we start? Just start turning things off.

A few weekends ago I went online to do my banking. For an old guy I am pretty savvy on the internet, and I love doing things like shopping and banking online. No lines, no forms to fill out. . .just a few clicks on the keyboard, and things get done.  Well, at least it works that way most of the time.

But on this particular weekend the bank’s server was down. When I logged on, I found a banner explaining that the server would be down for several hours while they did some maintenance and upgraded the software. Now, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the diligent work of people who make sure the machines work. But the situation did make me smile. I am old enough to remember when machines like computers and robots were taking over various parts of our lives. They could do routine work much faster and much more efficiently than human beings and what’s more. . .they never needed any time off. They didn't get sick. They didn't take vacations. Machines could work 365 days a year, seven days a week—except of course, for the occasional weekend needed for maintenance and software updating.

Of course, we all need down time. All of us need time to do maintenance on our hardware and have our software updated. I guess this is why God commanded— commanded mind you, not suggested—to keep the Sabbath “holy,” separate, apart from the other days. We are to keep one day holy, different from the other six. The word, Sabbath, literally means “to stop,” “to bring to an end.” In other words, God says every six days we are to stop our work. After working for six days, the next day, we bring it all to an end.

Now, most of us, myself included, read this commandment and say, “Well, of course, but this commandment was written before blogs, email, twitter, cell phones, the internet and all of the other 365 days, 24 hour a day interruptions we call modern life—and we wonder, “How do we do that?”

This thought might help. According to the Bible, the truth of the Sabbath was rooted in the FREEDOM of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Their Egyptian masters never gave them a day off (feel familiar?), but a free person has the liberty to stop working if they want. I guess that’s the point which makes me think a little. Am I free to disconnect? Am I free to stop responding to the beeps and flashing lights in my life? Has all of the technology actually made me a slave? The answer is not what I want it to be. . .

Like me, you probably need to change. But where do we start? It’s easier than you think. Just start turning things off—the television, the internet, the cell phone–and keep turning things off until things get quiet enough for you to hear yourself think.  Get still enough so you can hear the still, small voice God uses so often.

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