“God never asked us to meet life’s pressures and demands on our own terms or by relying upon our own strength. Nor did He demand that we win His favor by assembling an impressive portfolio of good deeds. Instead, He invites us to enter His rest.” Chuck Swindoll, American pastor and author
I know exactly when I began observing a sabbath of sorts. I was a junior in college and, by an incredible stroke of bad timing, I had 300 pages of term papers and abstracts due in one semester. One semester.
There was clearly a choice to be made. I could meet this tally by working like a maniac just all the time. Or, I could keep myself fired up to work like a maniac six days a week by taking every single Saturday off to do “things.” Things like dating, hiking, eating out, consuming entire bags of chips and tubs of onion dip with my roommates, horseback riding, searching for geodes on the edge of a lake. And just on and on.
You can guess what I did, discovered that I absolutely love and still do to this day.
I couldn’t help think of the start of my toil-free, guilt-free Saturdays this weekend, when my husband and I spent a couple hours completing our garden shut down. He mowed one last time, cut down the annual growth of a vine that is fence-destroying if it is not so heavily pruned, dug up the glad bulbs (pictured above), raised the porch swing into the rafters. I removed or neatened all signs of the plant life that remained — except for the seed-bearing specimens that cause our birds to twitter with pleasure.
Were we working this sabbath? Technically, yes. But, it was really more an end-of-the-season whoo-hoo — a connection to where we are in time and to each other. A tidying of the garden so that it will wear its coat of brown and yellow and snow with beauty. It’s true. All winter, we will be able to look out the back windows with pleasure and the calmness that comes with knowing there is nothing to be done.
Nothing to be done. Isn’t that what God had in mind when He came up with the idea of a day of rest? Work, work, work, work, work, work, rest. Take it too far, and you get religious rigidity of the kind that roiled the crowds around Jesus. Take it for what God intended — a gift to humankind — and it’s a blessing and a joy.
So, whether it’s your garden, your soul, your body or just your smart phone, consider taking time now to plan a breather as a closure to this week. You might enjoy it so much you won’t be able to stop.