Slow Down

I’VE ALWAYS PRIDED MYSELF on how much work and stress I could handle.

For a good portion of my life, I brought this mentality into church. As a junior high advisor, I led Friday night fellowship, hung out with kids on Saturdays, trained the youth worship team, taught Sunday School, and hosted our youth Sunday service. I also somehow juggled a full-time college load, a part-time internship in public relations, and work for INHERITANCE.

There were definitely those around me who were concerned — but their worries were drowned out by the louder, more enthusiastic praises of those clearly impressed by my abilities. I had energy, charisma, and drive. I was also smart enough to say the right things, to point to God like a rapper on the stage of the MTV Awards, rather than revealing that I enjoyed feeding my ego.

But as these things tend to go, everything eventually began to unravel. I soon found myself sitting in my pastor’s office, hearing the suggestion that I should take a sabbatical.

I didn’t understand. Sabbath was for those who were burned out, for those who were weaker and needed to take a break. I, on the other hand, had always been able to power through, had always been able to summon that last bit of willpower to make it to the top. But I begrudgingly accepted.

Sabbath was for those who were burned out, for those who were weaker and needed to take a break.

That forced sabbatical changed my life, and its impact was immediate. It was the first time I remembered eating a good breakfast on a Sunday morning. I didn’t feel like I was in a mad rush to get out the door. I even found time to read some magazines I had saved but never felt like I had enough time to open.

That first Sunday was like a fresh breath of clean, cold mountain air, cutting straight to my lungs and waking up something in my soul. As it blew, it revealed to me things I had never taken the time to notice.

I realized that in my busyness, my life had been suffering because of work. My personal, romantic, and communal lives were all in shambles — and probably my ministry too. I had no community and wasn’t being fed, but I was so driven by the idea of making a difference in the world. I justified my personal sacrifices by seeing myself as a martyr sacrificing my body and health for the kingdom.

It felt unnatural to stop working. It was a waste of time! I could have been helping someone or doing something. I could have been proving that I was a person worthy of God’s love.

Sabbath, as it turns out, is a waste of time. It is about not working. It is trusting that somehow, some way, God will take care of it. That even when we’re not getting anything done, we can still experience God’s grace in our lives. In a society and culture, where work defines so much of who we are, Sabbath is an entire reorientation of how we understand our lives in relation to God. It is a grace-filled way of living life.

Sabbath, as it turns out, is a waste of time.

May you experience more of God’s grace in your life, and may you find the grace to slow down, even when it seems impossible to do so.

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