Is Now When We're Going to Rest?
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. - Mark 2 NLT
“Should I be writing on Fridays?” I asked no one in particular. I had been wondering what the rule should be during Lent as I attempted to write every morning before I went about my day. As a pastor, Sundays are not really restful and do not provide what I believe God would hope I would receive from Sabbath rest. Friday became the replacement for Sunday.
Almost fifteen years ago, I had been a youth pastor for a little over a year when I began to burn out. It felt so strange. I was hired to work only thirty hours per week, but anyone who has worked in ministry knows that the work is relentless and you can fill every hour of every day quite easily, and the work will just keep coming. It is never-ending. I had a lot of self-esteem issues when it came to working back then. It felt weird to be an adult, even though I was twenty-six. It felt weird to work for money at a church, even though I had been volunteering in churches my whole life. It felt weird to be seen as a faith leader, even though most of my constituent members were younger than fifteen.
To overcome those feelings of weirdness, I worked. I worked and I worked. When my wife was on maternity leave, I worked. When she returned to work, I complained about not being able to get my job done. I hurt myself and I hurt her feelings and often made it seem like work was more important than our young daughter’s well-being.
I don’t remember the specific day, but I remember the feeling of conviction the first time I heard a sermon on the Sabbath and realized that I was pantomiming following the most basic request God gives us, often saying to us, “Please, rest.” That first Friday was difficult. I took calls. I made calls. I stayed engaged with work. I just stayed home and pretended it was a win. As time went on, I became serious about Sabbath. I don’t respond to texts, phone calls, etc. I check my voicemail in case of emergency, but I am GONE. The church members know it. My friends know it and know that they are welcome to hang out. My family knows it because I make time for them each Friday evening to eat pizza and watch movies. And now I know what Jesus meant when he said the Sabbath was made for humanity - it is a gift!
So, somehow I find myself writing on Fridays because it feels like I want to. It feels like the most congruous thing I could do right now is to write for a few short minutes in the morning to bring my attention back to the God who gave this gift of rest to me.
Even at this moment, I hear the quiet whisper, “Please, rest.” But for right now, this is rest.