Time Management, Sabbath and Other Struggles (Pt. 2)
Everyone has an opinion on Sabbath: what it is, what it looks like, what you’re supposed to do. They range from Sabbath is an Old Testament command that Christ came to abolish to it still being a command to be obeyed.
The best talk I ever heard on Sabbath was by my friend Jess Steinberg at Shelter Community out in California. She echoed many of the feelings that I have about hard work, exhaustion, time management and filling a plate with good works. “I take it almost as a point of pride,” she said, “when someone says something like, ‘I just don’t know how you do it all.’” Jess is a school teacher who is also involved in a lot of important ministries at her church as well as a host of other initiatives that she is moving on. All in all, Jess and I had similar levels of work. I knew very little about her at the time, but after that talk knew that we were kindred spirits.
Some time later a concerned friend sat down with me over breakfast. “Coleman,” she said. “I am concerned that you are not taking a Sabbath often enough.” My friend was well meaning, but at the time she was working a part-time job as a fifth-grade teachers assistant about 20 hours a week. Though her advise was sound, it fell on deaf ears because from where I was sitting her whole life was a Sabbath.
When someone talks about Sabbath, my mind tends to jump to conclusions about them being lazy or using the Bible as a way to get out of work. A friend of mine had to come up to the church on Saturday to help with a project, all the while mumbling about how this was his Sabbath and he wasn’t supposed to be there. I wanted to tell him to get over it, because I hadn’t had a day off in a long time, but I didn’t.
God seemed very intent on people taking Sabbath in the Old Testament, Jesus seems to be intent on doing good things on the Sabbath.
Some people have told me that Sabbath is about you not being God. The natural progression of things will make you want to work more, get more, earn more and have more. Sabbath is so that you can take a day off and let God be in charge instead of you.
I know from experience that if you don’t take a Sabbath, you will have one forced on you. When I burnt out from my job, I had Sabbath put on me. My failure to Sabbath led to s Sabbath.
Friends of mine who know Hebrew better than I do tell me that the word for “fail” and “still” are the same. So the passage “Be still and know that I am God” can be translated “Fail and know that I am God.” Maybe that is intentional. Sabbath is a time of rest to remember God. If we don’t Sabbath, we will fail, and then we will remember anyway.