Press Pause For Life — #1

Jan 30th 2017

Last weekend (January 28/29) we started a new teaching series at Calvary called “Press Pause…for life.” It’s a five week series on the sabbath, on developing a weekly rhythm of pressing pause. If you want to listen to the first message, an introduction to sabbath you can go to Calvary Messages. Look for “24/6 Living in a 24/7 World.”

To keep the conversation going, I’m going to invite a number of guest bloggers to share on this site, some of their thoughts and experiences of sabbath. My first guest blogger (really just a quote from his book) is Mark Buchanan. He has written a great sabbath book called “The Rest of God.” These words come from chapter one.

I became a Sabbath-keeper the hard way: either that, or die. Not die literally—at least, I don’t think so—but die in other ways. It happened subtly, over time; but I noticed at some point that the harder I worked, the less I accomplished. I was often a whirligig of motion. My days were intricately fitted together like the old game of Mousetrap, every piece precariously connected to every other, the whole thing needing to work together for it to work at all. But there was little joy, and stunted fruit. To justify myself, I’d tell others I was gripped by a magnificent obsession. I was purpose-driven, I said, or words like that. It may have begun that way. It wasn’t that way any longer. Often I was just obsessed, merely driven, no magnificence or purposefulness about it. I once went forty days—an ominously biblical number, that— without taking a single day off. And was proud of it. But things weren’t right. Though my work often consumed me, I was losing my pleasure in it—and, for that matter, in many other things besides—and losing, too, my effectiveness in it…

The inmost places suffered most. I was losing perspective. Fissures in my character worked themselves here and there into cracks. Some widened into ruptures. I grew easily irritable, paranoid, bitter, self-righteous, gloomy. I was often argumentative: I preferred rightness to intimacy. I avoided and I withdrew…

And then I came to my senses. I wish I could say this happened in one blazing, dazzling vision—a voice from heaven, a light that blinded and wounded and healed—but it didn’t. It was more a slow dawning. I didn’t lose my marriage, or family, or ministry, or health. I didn’t wallow in pig muck, scavenging for husks and rinds. But it became clear that if I continued in the way I was heading, I was going to do lasting damage…

I learned to keep Sabbath in the crucible of breaking it.

God made us from dust. We’re never too far from our origins. The apostle Paul says we’re only clay pots—dust mixed with water, passed through fire. Hard, yes, but brittle too. Knowing this, God gave us the gift of Sabbath—not just as a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing. Sabbath-keeping is a form of mending. It’s mortar in the joints. Keep Sabbath, or else break too easily, and over soon. Keep it, otherwise our dustiness consumes us, becomes us, and we end up able to hold exactly nothing. In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply.

Maybe you can relate. If so maybe this series is for you.