Our souls are running ragged.
A few years ago I experienced serious burn-out. It was intense. I had been consumed with a desire to do more for our friends in Africa. It was an overwhelming pressure. As I realized how helpful I could be in speaking up on behalf of vulnerable kids – I also realized I had trouble “turning off.” If I didn’t take that phone call at 2 AM from Kenya there was a strong possibility that a child could die! Yikes. I felt like I was “on” 24/7.
But I found myself becoming more and more frazzled, irritated, and even disconnected from God in my pursuit of working for him. It was such a weird place to be. It felt so right and so wrong at the same time.
About that time our family began a deeper study of the concept of “Shabbat” in the ancient Jewish scriptures. The Hebrew people consecrated the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. It was a day to quit working and to enjoy restful activities. It was a day given to God. This fairly poor ancient Middle Eastern tribe (primarily consisting of busy farmers and herdsmen) halted all of their work for one day every week! It seems somewhat crazy. But it became a core part of their identity for thousands of years. Even to this day when you visit Jerusalem most of the city shuts down for a period of about 24 hours each week. It’s both annoying and intriguing at the same time.
When most of us think about this restrictive concept of a day of non-work each week – we get really defensive. Our modern lives involve after-hours phone calls, social media maintenance, weekend commitments, travel, kids’ activities, and on the list goes. It seems impossible to pull back for even one day during the week! 24/7 seems essential.
But what if we are missing out on a bundle of joy?
What if giving up those hours of productivity one day a week could actually enrich our personal lives, our families, and our community with unexpected beauty? What if it enriched our relationship with our Creator?
This post can’t even come close to addressing the controversy and nuances of a weekly day of rest. If you are up for a more in-depth treatment of Sabbath from a Christian perspective I’d recommend Matthew Sleeth’s book 24/6.
But if you are up for taking a few steps toward protecting a day of joy and rest in your week I’d recommend one area for starters.
Try a digital-free Shabbat!
Every week our family takes nearly a full 24 hours to turn off digital devices. We turn off computers, our family iPad, and smartphones. We don’t surf. We don’t do apps. No social media. No TV.
Instead of apps we enjoy naps. We take a family walk. We play board games. We read the scriptures. We worship. We go outside. We read books (the paper kind). It’s wonderful! At the end of the day we feel cleansed and restored.
And our ragged souls are healed just a bit.
Do you practice any Sabbath or Shabbat activities (or non-activities)? What works for you and your family? I’d love to hear your perspective!