I was listening to a podcast the other day, wherein A.J. Swoboda was talking about his new book, “Subversive Sabbath”. Isn’t that a great title? While I’ve long been a proponent of intentionally cultivating a rhythm of life, which regularly includes rest, play, worship, and celebration, something A.J. observed seemed SUPER profound to me: In the Bible, God is NEVER busy. The ONLY spiritual being who is busy in the Bible is Satan. Whether you believe in God or not isn’t that a pretty profound observation? Does it unlock some truth for you like it does me?
I’d put it this way: While rest is divine, busyness is NOT. Now, I’m not talking about working for food, shelter, or even a vacation. I don’t think this is about a busy day cleaning the house, paying bills, or prepping for a gathering. This doesn’t include the flurry of activity involved with a move, a death, a major illness, and so on. Instead, I think it declares rest is a good gift and when we weave it into the tapestry of our lives the beauty will increase, whereas when we pack our schedules, load ourselves with commitments, don’t take intentional times to BE alone, don’t make purposeful space to BE with people close to us, and are constantly on the go, life gets chaotic, scattered, and stressful. I know when I think about my life I find this to be true.
For instance, I can think of days when I was working and on the go nonstop all day, without a pause to rest or play. Do you know what happened? By the end of the day I was burnt out and useless. It’s like my body knows it’s not meant to operate full throttle and nonstop, so it just shut down. Likewise, when a week or month gets overcrowded, even with good things, Lisa (my wife) and/or I will hit “EMPTY” on our physical, emotional, and/or relational gas gauge. One of us will melt down or one of us will unintentionally hurt the other or we’ll just collapse in exhaustion.
The thing is, in the U.S. at least, it’s super normal and encouraged to pack our schedules and always be doing, going, and achieving. Being busy and worn out from doings is a cultural badge of honor, and the busier you are the more revered you are. Recognizing that doings are good and belong, it seems to me society’s emphasis on busyness at the expense of rest is truthfully a demonic impulse.
Let’s look at the flip side of this discussion to unpack that statement a bit. “Busyness” to me communicates stress, anxiety, and imbalance, so I’d say the opposite is “calm”. While Satan lives a lifestyle marked by busyness and the resultant worries, troubles, and turmoil, God’s manner is marked by calm. The divine way of life is non-anxious, non-reactive, peaceful, grounded, unrushed, focused, joyful, and kind. Who doesn’t want to be those things, right? The question then becomes: How? How do experience and embody this goodness?
It seems to me a SUPER helpful way to progressively receive and become more and more of our Creator’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control is mindfully set aside regular times to receive the gift of Sabbath. While traditionally the Sabbath is one day a week people set aside (at God’s behest) to NOT work AT ALL in order to rest, worship, play, and celebrate, I say we go further with this practice. What I mean is make “rest” (and the accompanying celebration, play, and worship) a regular part of ALL our lives. For instance, one could take 10 minutes a day for nap, 10 minutes to go for a walk in nature, and 10 minutes to play a game, or maybe it’s dancing, singing, yoga, meditation, praying, or _____. What is more, monthly, quarterly, annually, etc. we could take a weekend, half a week, or longer to deliberately NOT work in order to “rest” with all the benefits it brings.
(My wife and I resting in Savasana … with some help from our dog Biscuits)
I say rest, play, celebration, and worship bring “benefits” because they do. These practices revitalize our bodies, minds, and souls. This filling of our “tanks” enables us to be more calm, grounded, unrushed, and non-anxious, which easily opens the door to greater kindness, caring, encouragement, joy, and love.
The satanic, tempting voice of culture telling us to push, do, acquire, go, and BE BUSY is hard to resist. It takes intention and community. Sabbath is truly a gift from God because it frees us to rest, play, dance, and celebrate without needing to accomplish anything. We can just BE and enjoy life, people, nature, love, and the Source of it all. I say we choose to be less busy and “rest” more, because it’s the divine thing to do. What do you think?
Grace and peace,