As I have said previously, work is a gift from God and is best understood to be that which we do in partnership with God to bring about good in the world. Indeed, one of the challenges that we face with work is over-estimating our contribution to our with-God partnership. We may be tempted to over-work which may indicate that we think that the world is going to fall apart if we do not do our part. Notice that over-work may indicate that we really do not think that God can do a good job managing the universe (insert “the office,” “the shop,” “the kitchen,” “the church” for whatever sphere you oversee).
Respect for work properly defined means respecting the limitations of work. God instructs the Hebrew people (and us) that they are to work six days and rest one day. This is the pattern and rhythm of life prescribed by God in scripture (see Exodus 20, Numbers 23 and Deuteronomy 5). It is a command along with being just good old plain common sense. The Hebrew people had been slaves for generations. They could have easily grown to believe that their identity was based on that which they produced. This is not God’s way.
Our identity is tied to our Heavenly Father. It is possible to live in conversation and communion with the One who promises to care for birds and begonias and even us (Matthew 5:25-34). When we learn the good and beautiful way of Jesus, we notice that worrying and defining ourselves by the results of our work are simply not our way anymore. We can live in the easy yoke with Father-Son-Holy Spirit and there we will find a rhythm of work and rest that is truly life-giving and life-sustaining.
Our daily work is restored to us as the gift that it was intended when we acknowledge that it cannot own us. All of this comes from God. God created us to work and rest. How is it that we have so much trouble with this? Is it so hard to trust that God, in whatever time and in whatever way, will bring about good from our work? Is it hard for us to accept the gift of this rhythm of work and rest because we are not totally convinced that God is generous and joyous and gives good things to those who ask?
“Because we do not rest, we lose our way….We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight.” Wayne Muller, Sabbath. Also other good books about the subject: Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn and Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab.
Also, click the link below to hear-see an incredible sermon by Ray Hammond at Epic Church Buffalo. We were visiting the church on the day he preached it. There are some very practical tools that may help you start this practice if you feel like a beginner.
By Rev. Roberta Mosier-Peterson at pastortiedye.blogspot.com