Want to hear a secret? I am a nerd. Ok, it’s not really that big of a secret, but the severity of my book-worm nature might be surprising to you. I love to read, 98% of the time I actually enjoy studying and doing homework (which is most definitely a blessing in nursing school!), there’s nothing a good library card can’t solve, and my dictionary app is by far the most frequently used on my phone. One of my favorites “space fillers” in my life for the past four years has been listening to sermons while I drive, do housework, cook, wash dishes, etc. I’ve found it to be an incredible opportunity to learn simply by listening to teaching in areas where I might normally listen to music.
Yesterday, during my various errands here and there, I was able to listen to the fourth sermon in Pastor Mark Driscoll’s current series on the Ten Commandments from Mars Hill Church. I’d listened to the previous three, and while I don’t agree with a few points stated so far, a few things Pastor Mark said in this sermon about the Sabbath were spot on. I appreciated how he carefully expressed that “remembering the sabbath” in a legalistic manner actually defeats the main purpose for which God established it: for us to find rest in Him.
I believe the Holy Spirit timed my listening to that message perfectly. In this season of my life, I am very busy. Class, clinicals, lab, homework, exam study, required charting, homegroup, discipleship, youth group volunteering, homegroup, leading worship, work, etc. Time is my most precious commodity and my natural solution to it’s increasing rarity has been to pick myself up by my “bootstraps” and push myself to be more time efficient. Therefore, my plan for today was to get the homework required for next week’s lecture finished, thinking that “I have the time today, so it must be done today,” However, as the day progressed, I found myself growing so very tired and began to nod off while reading. Instantly, a war began inside my mind: do I let myself fall asleep, or do I “do the right thing”, force myself to wake up and keep reading? I firmly believe that God wants me to be the best student I can be while in school, so wouldn’t that naturally mean that homework takes the top priority? As the battle raged, I remembered something Pastor Mark said in his sermon:
“So, the Sabbath day is the day to [rest]. Some of you say, ‘But, I’m supposed to serve the Lord.’ Serve him by sleeping. For those of you who get up and go to work, sleeping in is an act of worship and it’s your way of saying, ‘I believe that when I am asleep, God is still sovereign, and I don’t need to get up and control everything because the one who is in control actually has it covered.’ Sometimes it’s taking a nap.'”
This little concept might seem like common sense to you, but it was almost revolutionary thinking for me. Maybe the best way for me to use this little slot of time available is not to keep pressing full-steam-ahead. Maybe God, the one who has given me this time to steward, would rather me actually get some extra rest, and not just so I can be more efficient later, but because He is glorified in my resting. Amazing! So I fell asleep; it was one of those beautiful naps where when you finally wake up, you feel like you’ve been born all over again. Like a heavy blanket has just been ripped off and you forgot what day it is, what time it is, and what’s going on in the world. Like I just hit restart.
Inspired, I decided to keep rolling with this whole Sabbath-afternoon idea. And so, I got to work. Ironic? Not really, if you think about it. Have you ever had a really long, hard day (or week, or month?) and when you finally get the chance to relax, you sit down to watch a movie and end up feeling not only not-rested but also disappointed that so much time was spent to little result? This happens to me quite often, which is another of my frequent motivations to avoid any pursuit of rest altogether. Pastor Mark helped expressed an idea I had never really put into concrete thought regarding this issue:
““Some of you need to understand that if you work with your mind, you’re going to Sabbath with your hands. If you’re a person who’s an accountant, or an engineer, or someone who’s sitting at a desk thinking all week, for you, Sabbath is probably going to look like weeding, woodworking, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, or something with your hands.
For those of you who work with your hands, you’re probably going to want to Sabbath with your mind. You’re probably going to want to read, sit down, not do a lot, and get a day of Sabbath and rest. It’s going to look different for everybody and that’s OK in the grace of God.”
The vast majority of my work of late has been “mind work”: studying, memorizing, learning, interviewing, etc. The last thing my poor, tired spirit wanted was more noise and images to filter through. It was beautifully sunny today, a wonderful break from the practically incessant rain this past month and a half has given us. Motivated by my desire to make the most of the not-yet-winter weather, I decided to Sabbath with a rake and 2 hours later I had removed just about all the leaves the wind would let me from my yard. I felt wonderful, floating in a mix of relished productivity combined with visible signs of effort and progress.
My next and final project was to make dinner. Technically, I didn’t have to make dinner; I already have multiple leftover dishes that could have easily fit tonight’s menu sitting in the fridge. But I rather enjoy cooking, especially when I have to be creative with a recipe, tweaking what it “requires” to conform with what I think would taste better or be more unique. Combine this enjoyment with a growing desire for culinary creativity, and a limited, unorthodox pantry, and I find time spent in the kitchen more of an adventure than a chore. So I made lasagna. I didn’t even plan on eating the lasagna tonight, I just wanted to make it. If you peaked into my kitchen this evening, you would have found me dancing my heart out at various intervals. There was no music playing, other than the sound of onions, peppers, mushrooms and garlic sautéing on the stove, but I felt so rejuvenated my joy was simply overflowing.
At the end of this lovely Sabbath afternoon, I’m feeling rested, pleased, productive and full. Plus, I have an entire meal ready to be eaten throughout the hectic week waiting for me. Today I’m grateful for God’s grace which has given me a new perspective, a fantastic afternoon, and a refreshed spirit.