Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, Spirituality > Purpose of the Sabbath #2

Purpose of the Sabbath #2

Buchanan (The Rest of God) explains how Deuteronomy grounds the Sabbath in the liberation of the people of God from their taskmasters in Egypt or as he says:

Don’t revive what God has removed. 89

Because that’s what the refusal to rest amount to: living as though taskmasters still hover and glower, ever ready to thrash us for the smallest sign of slowing down. It is to strive and toil as though we have no choice, as if we’ll be punished otherwise. 90

To refuse the Sabbath is in effect to spurn the gift of freedom. It is to resume willingly what we once cried out for God to deliver us from. It is choosing what we once shunned.

Taskmasters despise rest. They create a culture where rest must be stolen, savored on the sly, and of course then it’s not rest: worry over getting caught plunders rest’s restfulness. 91

Taskmasters are masters of half-truth. They couch their harangue in just enough reality that the whole thing has the ring of authenticity. It’s true in part, what they say: there is no end of things to do. I am a touch on the lazy side and disguise this with busyness. There is a crowd of people disappointed with me, who find me, by turn, indecisive, despotic, timid, rash, evasive, blunt, foolhardy, wise in my own eyes, foot-dragging, impulsive. I do procrastinate overmuch and at the same time make too many snap decisions. Most of my life is unfinished. Many of my efforts are slapdash and slipshod. 92-93

But thank God that God could care less about our rights. What God cares about, and deeply, is our needs. And it’s this simple: you and I have an inescapable need for rest.

The rest of God . . . is not a reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done.

It’s sheer gift. It is a stop-work order in the midst of work that’s never complete, never polished. Sabbath is not the break we’re allocated at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could. 93

I have learned a little bit about the importance of resting when my body began to shut down after neglecting the rest God offers and prescribes. As I move out of this “God-imposed rest” into more activity and service, I do not want to go back under the old taskmasters and their half-lies. God has set us free–may we live in the freedom (of the Sabbath rest) He offers!

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