Wednesday, September 29 2021
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was not made for man, but man for the Sabbath.” - Mark 2:27
Our elders are studying the leadership of Moses through the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. This month, we looked at a chapter on the spiritual rhythms of leaders and focused on God’s provision of manna in Exodus 16. The Israelites were instructed to collect enough manna for each day and double the amount on the 6thday so they could rest on the Sabbath. The word for Sabbath carries with it the idea of a “rest of the heart” and celebration. This observance was to relieve the anxiety, stress, and weariness of journeying through the desert. It also served to teach the Israelites to trust in the Lord’s provision for them. The story of the Israelites reminds us how easily we can be overcome by our fear and our pride to our own detriment and to the harm of others.
Barton cites a study conducted by Michael Zigarelli, an associate professor of management at Charleston University School of business, that shows many Christians see busyness and overload as very damaging to their relationship with God. He presents a cycle that feels like a downward spiral that works like this: 1) we assimilate to a “culture of busyness, hurry and overload”; 2) God is moved to the margins of our lives; 3) our relationship with God deteriorates; 4) we become even more vulnerable to cultural assumptions about how to live; 5) then we conform even more to the culture of “busyness, hurry, and overload.” Barton identifies it as the “bondage of busyness.” (from Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, IVP, Downers Grove, IL. pg. 118.
I have been challenged to consider the ways I have fallen victim to this spiritual death spiral. I wonder where you find yourself in the midst of obligations of work, family, and even, at times church. A rhythm of the spiritual disciplines or practices of worship in community, personal and corporate bible, study, prayer, and rest and celebration serve to help us grow and become healthier spiritually, emotionally, socially, and even physically. These things are made for us, not us for these things. But these things are of no use if they are not used. And if you are like me, I can tell the difference in my attitudes and actions when they are not being used.
I write these words in perhaps the busiest time of year for many of us. Work, school, extracurricular activities - the list goes on – overloads us with busyness, hurry and stress. May I encourage you to rest, celebrate, and begin to develop some rhythms in your day, your week, your month, and your year that help you become transformed to the image of Christ rather than conformed to the hurry and rush of the world. May you the bondage of busyness become the freedom of celebration.