I’m thrilled to host one of my all-time favorite authors and Sabbath-keepers – Mark Buchanan. I mean who doesn’t like a pastor who rides a Harley and loves Jesus? He is a Professor of Pastoral Theology at Ambrose Seminary in Calgary and the author of seven books, including The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (Thomas Nelson, 2005). I’m giving away one copy of The Rest of God to one lucky person who leaves a comment. Mark’s books have not only shaped my spiritual pilgrimage but also provide weekly inspiration for the Sabbath Society. Please give Mark a warm welcome.
I became a Sabbath-keeper by being a Sabbath-breaker. Restlessness was killing me. I tried to solve the universal problem of too much to do with too little time by just getting busier, driving harder, working longer. And for a while, it worked. Greater effort translated into higher production.
And then it didn’t. Past a point, the faster I went, the further behind I fell. The harder I toiled, the less I accomplished. And even when this self-task-mastering continued to produce results – an increased quota of bricks! – my pleasure in the accomplishment was nil. The fruit of all my heroic effort was bitterness.
In economics, this is called the law of diminishing returns. In the spiritual life, it’s called stupid.
Pop open your Bible to the 10 commandments – Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5. Scan down the page. Look at, say, the 6th commandment, the prohibition against murder. Now the 7th, the admonishment against adultery.
How many words does God take to warn us clear of such things? Depending on the translation, 3 to 5.
Now look at the 4th commandment, the call to Sabbath-keeping. How many words does God use? Depending on the translation, anywhere from 95 to 120.
It seems God is trying to make a point. I think it might be this: really pay attention to my gift of rest. Receive it. Enjoy it. Bask in it. Delight in it. Treasure it. Make it a high priority. Oh, and also, don’t kill people, steal from people, sleep with other people’s spouses, covet their stuff, that sort of thing. But I don’t need to say too much about all that, as long as you’re well rested. Just keep Sabbath, and Sabbath will keep you.
The irony is that most Christians who wouldn’t dream about breaking the 6th commandment routinely break the 4th. No Christian would publically confess to adultery, but I often hear Christians bragging or lamenting that they haven’t had a day off in 3 weeks.
And then we wonder why we’re so angry, lustful, covetous, and the like.
I’m going to ask you to do us all a favor: get some rest. Take Sabbath. Receive the day. It’s about the least selfish thing you can do. It will make you more productive, more creative, more pleasant to be around.
And you’ll be less likely to kill somebody.
That’s a good gift to a hurting world.
So, really, don’t just do something. Stand there. Or even better, go lie down.
Mark Buchanan and his wife Cheryl live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and are soon moving to Calgary, Alberta. They have three children. Educated at UBC and Regent College, Mark is a pastor, professor, speaker, and the author of seven books as well as the forthcoming novel, David. He has also written numerous articles for Christianity Today, Faith Today, Leadership Journal, Discipleship Journal, Conversations, Seven and several other magazines. He enjoys scuba diving, fishing, and motorcycles.
Are you a Sabbath-keeper? What keeps you from taking a day of rest? Join the Sabbath Society, more than 100 people who say, “I’m all in,” when it comes to observing a day of rest and receive weekly encouragement delivered quietly to your inbox. Leave a comment on today’s post to enter a drawing for Mark’s book, The Rest of God. A winner will be announced on Friday.