Have you ever heard of "Mountain Day?" Japan has just instituted a new holiday that is trying to promote the importance of "Taking time off of work...Go visit a mountain...use your paid vacation days... because it is good for you!"
Do you believe rest is good for you? Or is it just slowing you down from getting your "oh, so important" work done?
In the article about Japan's concern for the overworked, the research proves that vacation and rest actually makes you more productive, it says: "The workaholic approach may not even be as effective as some think. After all, French workers have the largest amount of guaranteed time off of any major industrialized nation yet their worker productivity is also amongst the world's highest. 'When you have longer working days,' says French economist Renaud Bourles, 'at some point because of exhaustion, it decreases your productivity.'"
Why do we need human experts to tell us this? God knew this truth all along, and he called this day, Sabbath.
To many, Sabbath has almost become a dirty word: "Oh no, it is Sunday and I am required to have miserable day today. Sit on the couch and be quiet. NO FUN, NO LAUGHTER, NO ACTIVITY....just rest." But that isn't Sabbath at all. To me Sabbath is a day that offers us an opportunity to do three things:
(1) Recognize that God is "The One" that keeps this world going; and in turn, my importance is really minimal in the large scheme of things. Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain...In vain you rise up early, and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves." Read that again if you are a workaholic. God wants to refresh you! But if you think you are really that important, that the world will stop working if you stop; than you will never enjoy tasting the sweet delight of God's grace.
Somehow we have bought the lie that my significance and importance is directly related to my output. NO...you are significant because you are made in God's image - - not because you make more money than your neighbor, or you accomplished 15 tasks on your to-do list.
(2) God wants us to enjoy his world and find satisfaction in the life he gave us! This may sound sappy and sentimental, but it is still true, "Take time to smell the Roses." Why did God make this world? To have people produce things? To create a bunch of busy ants? Or to cause people to wonder, laugh, and sing about his glory? The New Testament gives us this as a directive for our life: "Make it your AMBITION to lead a peaceful and quiet life." Is God serious?
Ambition and quiet don't seem to go together, do they? But in God's world, they are best friends. In other worlds, we should strive to find rest.
(3) God wants us to have a day where we shut off the noise so we will hear his voice again. Worship is our chance to connect with our creator, the one who gives us life and sustains us; He really is the best thing for us. Read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. To me, the most powerful verse is directed to the grumbling older brother who is upset that when his rotten, no-good brother comes home; and they have a party for him, "Unfair!" The older brother is boiling mad, so the dad comes up to him and says, "My son, you are always WITH ME, and everything I have is yours." In other words, the older brother always had at his disposal the best thing, the presence of his dad, and he never cherished it. Isn't the presence of God enough?
Answer this question for yourself because it will shine a light on why you may be lacking: Isn't God enough?
For most people the answer is "NO." And because God is not satisfying they must strive to fill the void that only God can fill. So people work, so they can buy, and the more the buy, the more empty they become. So they work harder....to buy more. And on and on it goes....
Sabbath forces our attention back to God - - he wants us to have the best, and sometimes Sabbath forces us to see what we have been missing. Sabbath is more than Sunday (And in fact the Jewish term Sabbath began on twilight Friday to twilight Saturday); Sabbath is a state of mind.
Where is your mind today?