My sister and I were recently talking about our lives and how it is important to make time for ourselves in spite of the continuing demands of work. The conversation reminded me of Israel being slaves in Egypt. One of the reasons God commanded the Sabbath was because slavery dehumanizes people. It treats them like machines or objects. People need rest, community and healthy relationships to feel human. We also need the downtime to reflect and consider our fortunate state. Eugene Peterson says that the Sabbath day of rest provides a needed rhythm for our lives. We work and rest, work and rest, work and rest… Without the rhythm we suffer anxiety and exhaustion.
We must pause from our work in order to consider our need for God. Overworking squeezes out any sense of praise and gratefulness to God, because after all we are more than competent to do the tasks required of us. That is what working is all about: my expertise, my abilities, my being self sufficient and up for the task. It is this confidence or competency in ourselves that causes us to ignore our need for God. The Sabbath repose can be a time of humility, refreshment, prayer, and fun.
The Sabbath day is for “praying and playing.” All work and no play can make us unhappy, unbalanced, unappreciated, and unappreciative of all that we have been given. Family, friends (if you have time for friends) good books (for me), dinning out with persons you love, taking in a movie, doing something just for the fun of it (even with our kids). Alternating between work and refreshment provides a certain rhythm that allows us to enjoy ourselves.
If we make time for ourselves and family, work and other responsibilities will not suffer. On the contrary, they will benefit from it! We will be better people (more human) having had the time to rest, reflect, pray and interact with others for the sake of just being with them. God is more recognizable in all we do when we realize it is not all up to us.