A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called “Sabbath Rebellion: Part 1” hoping to finish the series. I wrote 2 more posts thereafter, wrapping up my thoughts on the topic and left both of those in draft form through these passing months. Something inside me just didn’t want to continue to unearth the depths of this issue. Now, I’m a bit confounded by the whole thing so I had to change the title to “Reflection” instead. The word “rebellion” sounds like I’m roaring back or something, and this just hasn’t been that kind of battle. I’ve been more cowering at the thought of Sabbath. A friend recently suggested that I try to think more about my struggle with unproductive/open/free/inactive/restful/sabbath space. Honestly, I’m sure now that I’m quite afraid of it.
When I rest, I feel lost.
It’s not just about not knowing where I am. In that space, I’m not sure WHO I am anymore. In that space, I suddenly throw myself into an abyss of shoulds, oughts, and musts and I am urged out of my resting place into a frenzy of activity. I cannot count how many times I was supposed to have a “rest day” but after about 10 minutes of resting, I went into a massive clean-out of my apartment, or suddenly felt the need to go through that closet I hadn’t touched in 5 years, or scrub down my shower, or re-organize my CD library (yes, I still have those…). I know for a fact that I clean when I’m stressed. So that begs the question, why am I stressed when I rest? That seems like an oxymoron (and a rhyme). But at least, when I clean, I know who I am. I’m a cleaner.
Sometimes when I think about human nature, or just my own nature, I remember the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert after God delivered them out of Egypt. They actually told Moses that they were better off as slaves. I think some of them (most of them?) were wishing they could go back! I always remember that story incredulously and do a couple of SMHs because seriously? How could you want to go back to SLAVERY? Do you not remember what that was like?
I also think about Brooks, a character in The Shawshank Redemption. [SPOILER ALERT] He was in prison for 50 years and then finally released when he was 72 years old. He never acclimated to his new life and after a short while, he ended up taking his own life. That scene always breaks my heart. But why Brooks! Surely, freedom is better than imprisonment? Brooks knew who he was in prison: an inmate, a brother, then a librarian. Freedom was disorienting to him.
And then it dawns on me. Human nature hasn’t changed, has it. Basically when I go into my activity-frenzy and resist the Sabbath, that is essentially what I am doing. I’m telling God, no thanks. I’d rather go back to work and not rest. I’d rather be a slave. I’d rather be imprisoned. It’s more comfortable there. Stopping, resting and delighting are extremely uncomfortable and disorienting to me.
When I clean, I’m a cleaner. When I plan, I’m a planner. In the past, when I worked, I was an accountant. Now when I work, I am a pastor and worship leader. When I sing, I’m a singer. When I write songs, I’m a songwriter.
When I rest I am a nobody.
And no one likes nobodies. Nobodies don’t belong and nobodies are not loved. I want to be liked. I want to belong. And I want to be loved. So much.
That idea about being a nobody though… it’s not the entire truth, is it? And perhaps that’s yet another reason this God, the Creator of the Universe and Lover of Mankind, is so compelling to me. Because in the sheer silence of nothingness, God is whispering the exact opposite. You are fully accepted. You are fully loved. You are mine.
That sounds so cliché when I re-read it. And that still, small voice is so counter-EVERYTHING and so unbelievable that I usually tend to brush it aside and do, do, do. Work, work, work. Prove, prove, prove. Earn, earn, earn.
There is a mind-blowing difference between working in order to be loved and working because I am already loved.
I choose the latter. And I will rest.
That is the way of Sabbath.
That is the way of God.