Tuesday, September 28 2021 - 7:46 AM
woman reclining on sofa
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Permission to Relax

Sabbath and the ability to relax is a lost concept! The idea of people temporarily abstaining from work and play long enough to let their bodies catch up with their brains is foreign. This is especially true in western culture, where we cram as much as we can into each day and still feel guilty that we aren’t doing enough.

The title of Tim Hansel’s book, When I Relax I Feel Guilty, says it all. Our culture never permits us to relax. Our Protestant work ethic requires us to stay busy seven days a week. Rest is for wimps. Our mantra is to work, produce, achieve, and engage until we crash and burn! What a way to go!

What a Way to Live

I think people should take a vacation every seven days. That’s 52 vacations a year! That may sound a bit radical, but it’s actually a great way to live!

Every seven days, just put your routines on hold and relax for 24 hours. This is where the Sabbath comes in. The word “Sabbath” means to rest, so every Sabbath day is a mini vacation. During this time you can relax and enjoy nature, friends, and family. It’s a perfect time to take your focus off of yourself and your performance and to notice the people around you.

I started doing this when I was 18 years old, and it’s been great. I still have a lot to learn, but I push everything else away each Friday evening and adopt a vacation mindset for the next 24 hours. If I get bills in the mail, I don’t open them because I’m on “vacation.” This same reasoning means I don’t go to my regular job and stay away from stores and business transactions. Neither do I do chores around the house, at least not while I’m on “vacation.” Those can wait until Sunday.

What Do I Do?

During these “vacations,” I usually go to church to seek a closer relationship with God. I love to hear stories about how God works in people’s lives. I may also go for a hike, play guitar, or spend time taking photographs of nature. It’s a great time to relax, visit with people, and/or perform community service.

The whole idea is that I’m on vacation with God, and I try to give Him my undivided attention during this time. What’s really neat is that God set it up this way! In the fourth commandment, we read:

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days, God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day” (Exodus 20: 8-11, The Message).

Just in case we’re tempted to think the Sabbath was made for God, Jesus said:

“People were not made for the good of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for the good of people” (Mark 2:27, New American Standard Version).

If more people got into the Sabbath, I’m convinced we’d have less burnout, divorce, and violence. People’s lives would be more balanced and productive. And more relaxed.

It’s something worth thinking about!

If you liked this, you might also like Is Anybody Having Fun Yet? | The Sabbath: God’s Gift of Rest 

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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