Last night, I received a bit of a scolding from a couple of people who will most likely never read this. (And if you do, I really like you and I think you’re fabulous, and this is simply something I disagree with your view on, and I would still like to be friends.) We were discussing the taking of a Sabbath, more specifically, setting one day per week aside for resting. It’s a topic that has been coming up regularly in our church lately. I recognize that setting one day aside to engage in non-work activities can be valuable. Particularly for those in high stress lines of work, allowing, and even disciplining, yourself to think on other things for some period on a regular basis is important. Vacations are refreshing, and I wouldn’t survive without some daily quiet (meaning without conversation), alone time. Louis knows that talking to me within 30 minutes of my arrival home from work is a risk. I’m a huge fan of rest. Woo! Sabbath! Go team!
However, it is not a commandment in the same way that loving others and spreading the Gospel are. This is where things got sticky for me last night. There are those who disagree. Somehow it came up that for some, particularly students, simply taking four hours once a week might be ok, though persons A & B strongly emphasized that would be acceptable only for a new believer. At this, I balked. I asserted that there are seasons in our lives when obeying God includes not taking a weekly, day-long sabbath. As I’m already bored of the “they said, then I said” format I have going here, I’m going to try to avoid it. Jesus was a Jew. Jesus obeyed the Sabbath, because under the Law, not doing so was punishable by death. Jesus was under the law. Then He cleared some things up (healing on the Sabbath! Scandalous then, but so obvious to us), died, was raised from dead, and CHANGED EVERYTHING. He fulfilled the law, forgave sin, and summed the whole thing up with “love God and love each other.” Part of loving God is taking time to worship Him and appreciate who He is. A sabbath should include this. It is not the only way to do so, however.
I know that I am supposed to go to grad school now. I am pretty sure that it’s supposed to be at UI. I have to continue to work to afford this, the cheapest program I looked into. I know that I was supposed to go to Biola and marry Louis and I’m supposed to serve God overseas someday and in some way. When enrolled in a full-time graduate program and working 30 hours a week, I will be absolutely unable to take an entire day off of school work and work-work. After each semester, though, I get a week or two, then Lou and I are hoping to take the summer after I graduate off. As Biola gives its professors a year off every seven, I plan to take 2-3 months off after 2 years. I took the last four years off of school; I take time off each evening to relax; I usually spend most of my weekend lazing around. This is why I was frustrated by being accused of making excuses and misplanning my life. I already feel like I spend too much time resting. I like going to the gym and admiring my garden daily. Every Saturday and Sunday are restful. I like going to the farmer’s market and buying groceries and pulling weeds and making things. It’s so legalistic and contrary to Jesus’ perspective to insist that one day per week must be left almost completely open. At one point, one of the girls said that she’s had to give up serving at a soup kitchen because it’s on her chosen sabbath day. I had to bite my cheek to keep from yelling. We kept talking about how Jesus healed on the sabbath, and yet she was saying that she was unable to, essentially, heal on the sabbath because it’s the sabbath.
The best (only?) advice I received is to pray about it. I honestly really appreciated that. So, I’m going to talk to God about finding rest time during grad school. I’m NOT going to feel guilty about not taking an entire day off every week. Maybe I’ll try to fit one (or half of one?) once every two weeks like helpful person C suggested.
On “This American Life” the other week, Ira Glass (the host) told a story about a Christian couple he knows who work with inner city kids. The called him after watching “Schindler’s List” and told him that they finally understood him (he’s Jewish). That they had never understood before what that means. And they described the part at the end of the film where Schindler looks at his possessions and weeps at his decision to not sell every thing he had to save as many Jews as possible (“This car. Goeth would’ve bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people, right there, ten more I could’ve got.”). And the couple told Ira Glass that was how they felt about the troubled kids they helped. They consider taking a day off, then think that maybe one more teenager’s life can be turned around and they go back for more and more and more. And Ira Glass, who I do not think is religious, said that he finally understood them. Maybe I cried a little in the car while I listened to that? Yes. You can click on the link up there and listen and cry, too, if you want. Anyway, the last(ish) thing Jesus said on earth was that we should share the Gospel with everyone on the planet. My job is to obey that commandment. If one more person hears what Christ has done for us, isn’t it worth it?
One last note: infants. Perfect example of a stage of life where it is LITERALLY impossible to take a full day off of work. They poop and cry and eat and if you ignore them for a whole day, CPS will take your baby and give it to someone who won’t. And we all know that God loves babies. Babies don’t allow for a work-free Sabbath. So, there.