Slowing Down

How is it that the calendar seems to fill up so quickly?!  I carry mine with me in my phone so I can update it as necessary and reference it often to see what is planned for the day and the week ahead.  It’s even color coded: purple for church related activities and meetings, yellow for school related assignments, red for things that my husband, Robert, has scheduled, and blue for other personal reminders.  And let me tell you, it begins to look like quite the rainbow!

I hope I am not alone in this feeling of sometimes being overbooked.  I hope I am not alone in this feeling of needing to slow down.

It reminds me of a particularly busy semester in seminary.  Papers and reading and other assignments, along with work in our church ministries left a group of us students feeling overworked and overwhelmed.  There just did not seem to be enough hours in the week to get everything accomplished.  There was no time to slow down, no time to take a break, no time to relax.  This of course has the unfortunate side effect of leading to stress and burnout.  A wise professor encouraged us to take care of ourselves, and went as far as assigning us a Sabbath as homework.  “It’s a divine commandment!” she urged us, and even threatened (half-jokingly) to fail us if we did not take a sabbath within the next week.

That professor offered us a challenge and a valuable reminder.  Sabbath is important, rest is important.  It becomes a bad habit to be so wrapped up in everything that is on the calendar that we neglect to take the time that God asks us to set aside for rest and worship.

Taking time for sabbath gives me a chance to catch my breath, to slow down, to notice the world around me, to be fully present in conversation with those closest to me.   Taking time for sabbath is a way to ensure I have the energy and strength to give my best throughout the rest of the week.  Taking time for sabbath gives me a chance to be fully present with God, to become immersed in God’s word.  Taking time for sabbath gives a chance to listen for God’s call and God’s leading.

So now, in the times when I begin to feel burdened by my full and colorful calendar I think back on my professors urging.  I remember that sabbath, as created by God for me, is holy time that should not get “bumped” for something else on my schedule.

“Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy.  Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…. Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day.  That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Exodus 20: 8-11 (Common English Bible)

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