What I’m about to share with you may seem infinitesimal compared to the recent horrific tragedies in the world. Or, you may be so overwhelmed with life that even the thought of considering something new is unappealing. Stay with me. The gains you’ll draw from this will be life-changing.
It only took a second, literally, to modify my life for over a week. It was 6 AM last Monday. I was just barely awake and I turned my head to the right as I lay on my pillow. A feeling came over me that I’m all-too familiar with and I snapped my face forward in an attempt to thwart the potential onslaught. I was successful and my vertigo subsided just as rapidly as it came. Instantaneously, the cold sweats, nauseous stomach, dizziness and fear to even move took hold. It’s now a week later and I’m still recovering from that one moment, that one-second twinge of the world moving in ways physics doesn’t allow.
When I get vertigo my vision gets completely discombobulated. Things don’t just spin, they “ratchet spin” like a really poor, old-time movie projector does when the film gets stuck. Whatever I’m looking at always moves from the right to the left and then snaps back about half the distance it moved. Then, as if my mind were craving an evil amusement park ride, it moves from the right to the left again but twice the distance it moved backwards. It suddenly stops and moves backward half the distance it moved forward. It’s like two steps forward and one step back, really fast. And it repeats again and again and again and again. Can you sense it? By now, you should be nauseous! If I try to stand or sit I spin uncontrollably! And that’s what my vertigo feels like. Praise the LORD this past event was only one second of the hellish Disney World I usually experience. And today, as I wandered through my day, I put two unrelated items together, vertigo and Sabbath.
This combination may seem insane but stay with me because there’s a God-given principle that has the potential of altering your life for the long haul.
I’ve written a lot about the beauty of Sabbath and the gift that it is from a loving God. It ceased being the “forgotten commandment” to me partway through my sabbatical last year. (You can read a lot about this in my previous posts. Just do a keyword search on Sabbath or rest.)
When I first share with people the concept of ceasing all work – and I do mean all productive activity – and resting for one day each week, they look at me like they have vertigo. It’s so contrary to the pattern of this world that has creepily crept it’s way into our lives. Busy, busy, busy is the mantra of our day. But a lot like my vertigo a short-term event will have long-term benefits, I guarantee. Vertigo is sudden and unexpected. Sabbath is intentional and planned. The results of each stay with you. For a brief time, just one day a week, you can have lavished on you the lasting, day-after-day effects of Sabbath. Sounds like a sales pitch, but it's not, it's a plea!
You see, Jesus was right, God the Father made and decreed Sabbath to benefit mankind. He didn’t make us to honor and uphold the Sabbath, as though the sun would recognize our efforts in acknowledging it’s 24-hour movement. Sabbath rest is God’s gift to His busy creation to remind us that He’s in control and that He loves us, among other things. And although we’ve all but forgotten about Sabbath, we ironically still worship the clock and have exchanged the gift of God for another day on the hamster wheel of life.
We try so many things to help ourselves slow the pace so we can act out of mindfulness rather than our ill-fated, knee jerk reactions. A cup of tea in the afternoon, taking 3 seconds before answering a difficult question, listening to music to and from work, perhaps a stashed delight of candy in the middle of the day are just some of the ways we try to cope. Now all these are fine, especially the candy, and some may even be part of a Sabbath, but they are a poor substitute for encountering the beauty God intended for each and every one of us in Sabbath. It’s kind of like the difference between greasy fast food and healthy, nutritious food. They both satisfy hunger but the benefits of eating right and well far outweigh a poor excuse for a meal. You see, these techniques are implemented in the moment whereas Sabbath prepares you for the moment! There's a big difference.
I recently came across a news clip about schools in San Francisco having implemented 2-15 minute sessions of “quiet time”, specifically Transcendental Meditation, each day. In a 4-year span they saw suspensions decline by 79%, attendance increase by 98% and a rise in academic performance overall. What was once called “fight school” is now a healthier high school. Now, I’m not advocating TM for many reasons that I won’t explain here – think fast food. It’s shallow and lacks substance compared to the power of meditating on and with God and His Word. However, the benefits of stopping, ceasing and resting are still realized because it’s a principle God has established as part of His creation. Again, when God promises something, He delivers.
When we Sabbath, weekly and through the day, we'll find rest and peace among a host of other fantastic things God has in store.
Last Monday, one split second brought a negative change to my life I hadn’t intended. And I’m saying that in one day, you can have so much more positively altered for a lifetime! I’ve implemented weekly Sabbath and daily, momentary rests for the past 5 months. I’m teaching my wife to do the same. We're growing in our understanding and implementation of each. We’re seeing beautiful things happen in us and around us because, frankly, that’s part of God’s plan when we Sabbath!
Here’s my challenge. Will you take time to seek out the following promise from God?
Will you be bold and courageous enough to say, "no", to the pattern of this world and say, "yes", to a day of rest, recuperation and relishing in God and His creation? Learn to Sabbath! It's a bit like vertigo but without all the spinning.