I first heard Gordon MacDonald speak about the importance of "Sabbath" in his book Ordering Your Private World. He spoke of the importance of Sabbath and rest. Specifically, he spoke of the importance of having a "Sabbath," as a part of a rhythm to one’s life, where there is regular rest and reflection.
Many of us are very busy, very active, and very connected. Blackberry. Twitter. Facebook. E-mail. Instant message. Yet, we may give little serious thought or reflection to our activity. It is possible to live as a person who is "connected" but who is not practicing much reflection on what has happened, what is happening, or what might happen in our lives. Without reflection, I may find myself moving rapidly through life while I spend little time contemplating the meaning of it all. Your life and mine are being formed and shaped. The question is: "What is shaping us? What is forming us? What are we becoming if we continue to live just as we are presently living?"
Do I have any space in my life in which I think about my day, my week, or my month? Is there space in which I reflect on the meaning of these activities? What about my personal behavior and my relationships? Does my life this week reflect that I am serious about the matters that Jesus said are front and center? Has my life this week expressed that I genuinely and deeply love God? Has my life this week expressed "neighbor love"?
I have found it very, very helpful to stop each week and reflect on my words and actions and how those fit with what I profess to be very important.
There is a sense in which my work is never finished — and yet maybe it is. What I mean is this: I don’t think that I have ever come to the end of a workday and said, "You know, I just don’t have anything to do now. I think I will go home." Never. There is always something that could be done.
Yet, there is another sense in which my work is finished. I come to the end of a day, a week, a month. There is not unlimited time. In fact, everything has its limits. My time. My energy. My body. The idea is not to see how much I can get done, as if I were a machine. Rather, I want to live and work with a view of my purpose before God.
Loren Wilkinson, in a recent article in "The Regent World" (Spring 2008, Vol. 20, No. 2), has written an excellent piece on "Sabbath." I liked this paragraph in particular:
It is good to be a pilgrim on the way, but that good is balanced by another, more elusive, good: the ability to be in a place at rest and at peace. That good is the goal of the biblical discipline of Sabbath. And people have never been in more desperate need of Sabbath than we are in the 21st century, in constant touch as we are (through cell phones, Internet, and e-mail) with every place on the planet, unable to be really at home and at peace in any place at all.
See the featured video this week at God-Hungry Live: an interview with Eugene Peterson.