The Sabbath

The Sabbath: Part 1

Have you ever felt like you were on a treadmill that wouldn’t stop? My last few weeks have felt that way. It starts with Monday at the office, lunch appointments, mid-week worship/choir rehearsal, an important dinner appointment, coffee, someone’s having another party, a writing session, rehearsal before two morning services, two morning services and it’s already Monday again. Where do we possibly find the time to experience a Sabbath? George MacDonald, in The Musician’s Quest says, “It is our best work that he wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. So many seem ambitious to kill themselves in the service of the Savior – and as quickly as possible”. Have you been there done that? Are you there now? Read a little excerpt from Lea Collins’ entry in the Perspectives on Worship collection:

In western cultures we are fighting an epidemic called burnout which is caused by too much stress unalleviated for too long. Burnout causes emotional and mental problems (such as depression) as well as physical sickness. If left unchecked, burnout does more than just ruin the quality of life. It can actually kill you. In Japan they have a word for it: karoshi – death from overwork.

In the U.S., more than 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month citing pastoral burnout as one of the major reasons. The primary reason burnout happens is the lack of its number one cure: REST.

The Bible mentions “rest” 469 times. In contrast, “worship” appears only 250 times and “praise” 326 times. Rest is extremely important to God. So important, in fact, that He made a law about it: remember (observe) the Sabbath.

The word “Sabbath” means “to cease,” “to end,” and “to rest.” When God instituted the Sabbath in Jewish culture, it was a completely unprecedented social concept. This weekly day off remained an exclusively Jewish “holiday” until the Reformation when Western Europe rebuilt itself with the Ten Commandments as the basis for society and law. Following this tradition, most of us now have two days off each week – Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is usually consumed with the errands and house work we don’t have time for during the week. And for those of us involved in any kind of ministry, whether full time or as a volunteer, Sunday is anything but a day of rest. If we’re lucky, rest is penciled in for a week of summer vacation each year. Seven days a year is a far cry from the fifty-two God intended. No wonder we’re all burned out!

Until next time, find time to rest.


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