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Monday, October 1, 2018

Take It Easy

My guess is that all of your work weeks are not alike. Mine aren’t. Some have more demands on my time. Others have more important decisions. And occasionally there are more stress-filled weeks where a weekend cannot arrive fast enough.

I had a few more stress-filled days last week. I could hardly take my eyes off the television coverage of the Kavanaugh/Ford testimonies on Thursday. It was almost impossible to get other work done. The follow up on Friday kept my attention focused as this issue as well.

It’s better for us not to get too close to engaging in that which causes our blood pressure to rise or stress to take hold. For me, that can happen watching my favorite football teams. Or while watching or engaging in hot political discussion. Like I said, I was ready for the weekend.

It’s long been a practice of mine to do my best at avoiding “work” on Sundays. This is not an absolute, but close. Those overly driven folk who tell us they work “seven days a week” misstate the obvious. They work ALL the time. I think it’s a dangerous way to live.

Having one day set aside for rest is a spiritual discipline. My conviction comes from an interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Specifically, the fourth commandment found in Exodus 20:8-11. The instruction was to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” Verse 11 adds, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (NIV)

I’m sure the people of Israel originally loved this idea. Their slavery conditions under the Egyptians placed enormous burdens on them. Who knows if they got much of a break.

Obviously, God knew that a commandment was needed because, at some point, the love of work would steal that rest God intended. It’s clear that is true today.

Shedding light on this issue is a well written piece in titled, “Let’s bring back the Sabbath as a radical act against the always-on economy.” The author, William R. Black, is a historian of American religion and culture. As he notes, being an advocate for acting on this commandment “smacks of obsolete puritanism.” It seems like a noble idea, but unrealistic.

Dr. Black, who now teaches at Western Kentucky University, surmises: “When taken seriously, the Sabbath has the power to restructure not only the calendar but also the entire political economy. In place of an economy built upon the profit motive–the ever-present need for more, in fact the need for there to never be enough–the Sabbath puts forward an economy built upon the belief that there is enough.”

Those two sentences reinforce my topic from last week’s blog. We need a mindset shift in appreciating a Sabbath. Otherwise, we keep focused on a steady treadmill to keep up or get further ahead.

As Dr. Black correctly asserts, “The Sabbath was desacralised into the weekend, and this desacralisation paved the way for the disappearance of the weekend altogether. The decline of good full-time work and the rise of the gig economy mean that we must relentlessly hustle and never rest. Why haven’t you answered that email? Couldn’t you be doing something more productive with your time? Bring your phone with you to the bathroom so you can at least keep busy.”

The lesson to be learned today is to accept the premise offered by Dr. Black. Observing a day of rest should be viewed in the spiritual light that God is our provider. Push back on the need for more that drives us out of rest. Find one day a week to put work aside…and take it easy.

P.S.  I wish I could get that Eagles song out of my head.

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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