Epicenter Epidemic. How lettuce teaches us about sabbath.

Fall is here and the leaves have been piling up. I removed a lot the other day to reveal the lush, green underlying grass. But when I woke up the next morning, after a late-night rain, the entire lawn was yellow with newly fallen maple leaves, again. So, I evicting them yet a second time! I tossed quite a few into my garden to use as mulch and fertilizer – cannibalistic if you think about it. Anyway, I was in the process of flinging when I noticed something peculiarly green in the garden. This year’s garden was all but gone, or so I thought. Pepper plants drooped and rotting, tomatoes brown and spiny. But there were just a few sprigs of light green hope.

Now, I didn’t do a late second planting this year I simply sowed in the spring and early summer. A good portion of my garden was made up of various kinds of lettuce. Once the lettuce reaches a certain level of maturity it gets bitter so I just let the plants go to flower. Upon a second look I realized that a new “crop” of lettuce was growing! A few plants here and there had sprouted from the seeds that the flowered plants dropped. I was delighted and ate some on the spot.

In the midst of munch a recent Twitter tweet (I like saying it that way) came to mind.

"If you can’t take one day a week to rest, you’re taking yourself too seriously."

~ EmotionallyHealthy.org

It struck me strongly as I chewed. And then I made a fascinating connection that I want to share! Here’s how lettuce, that tweet and the concept of Sabbath all tie together.

THE LETTUCE: What sprouted from the ground was none of my direct doing, but it did come from my hard labor I put in months ago. Often, we work very hard in our lives to produce good stuff thinking that we must keep working, unceasingly, in order for anything to be produced. But that’s not true. There’s a God who passionately loves us and is always working. The lettuce didn’t need me, it was designed to seed and grow on it’s own. And now, take a deep breath for the brutal truth – God doesn’t need you either! But He does choose to use you! Huge difference!

THE TWEET: When we take a day of the week or a moment in each day to stop, cease and Sabbath, the world goes on without us. And that’s ok! If we think that by stopping any length of time to rest, recuperate and rejoice in the Creator everything will come to a crashing halt, we’d better take a sober diagnostic of our egos. God is perfectly capable of handling things without us. Sometimes we just need another person to remind us of this fact, like the tweet, and sometimes forcibly.

A small vine grows from beneath a fence. Life goes on without us, whether we want to admit it or not. How well will you live?

THE SABBATH: I’ve written a lot on Sabbath and you’ll hear more in upcoming months (in the mean time, check out my other posts in this blog). The more I practice Sabbath, the more I crave it, the healthier I feel and the more productive I’ve become on the other 6 days of the week. Sabbath isn’t about being lazy, it’s about us getting the rhythm of our lives synced with God’s design for us. Sabbath isn’t about keeping a religion, it’s about refreshing ourselves with the presence of the LORD. It’s crazy sounding, I know, and if I hadn’t been experiencing it for the past four months, I’d call me nuts, too. It’s been the discovery of a lifetime for me. I’ve become very protective of my Sabbaths, not legalistically but realistically because they’re a fountain of life to my wife and me.

Society has a problem and it has infiltrated every fiber, especially the church. There’s an “epicenter epidemic” run rampant in our culture! We’ve gotten all turned around about what should truly be at the center of our lives. Instead of it being God we’ve substituted “us” and to our own detriment. If you can’t take one day, just one day to rest and reset your personal and spiritual compass, you’re taking yourself way too seriously. I know. I was.

Now, I know some of you are thinking a lot of contrary thoughts. There’s internal conflict in you as you think of all the things you need to get done and all that needs your attention. And, just as I experience, you'll get push back from the outside - your spouse, your kids, your boss and society itself will scoff at your foolishness of resting for an entire day. But know this – the world will be spinning when you get back. For me, when I first began, I felt guilty - like I was slacking off. I also felt like a wimp, like I couldn't take working 24/7 like everyone else. But there was One who was cheering me on as I discovered my original design and began to practice it regularly.

Yes, in your absence some things may go awry. That’s okay. Think of all the fun things you’ll learn if things do slide sideways and trouble pops! Okay, that's sadistic, but it's true. I can tell you stories of the craziness that took place during a 3-month sabbatical I took - but so many good things were learned through it! One more thing you’ll learn, you’re not as important as you may think. Yes, you’re valuable and there’s only one you. You have uniqueness and qualities that no one else has in your community. But a rested you is far better than a worn out you. And just like the lettuce, things will spring up that you had nothing to do with but you’ll get to benefit from.

So, will you consider being transformed by renewing your mind, not being conformed to the pattern called “busyness” that’s in this world and start practicing Sabbath? Will you allow yourself the freedom to admit that you're not a machine? Heck, even machines need down time for maintenance! If you’d like some help with this, shoot me an email. I’d love to speak with you.

"Are you living in a way, at a pace, as a leader that you want to say to your people, "Follow me as I follow Christ?"

~ Peter Scazzero, author, "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality"