In his book, The Body, Bill Bryson say that we blink so much each day that it’s the equivalent of closing our eyes for 23 minutes. I happened to mention this to a guy who is an accounting director, and he said: That’s a half hour more of work we can get out of everyone. We laughed, but perhaps he’s onto something. Someone, somewhere would love to harness those 23 minutes.
This is how our world thinks. More work. More effort. More productivity. But we weren’t made to continually produce. We were made for cycles of work and rest and play. Sabbath is essential. While it is no longer confined to a day, Sabbath is essential for a faithful life. As Andy Crouch notes: “A Sabbathless life ends up with neither true work nor true rest, but with frantic and ineffective activity punctuated by couch-potato lethargy.”
If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves not enjoying our work, and working at our play. An untended life too easily slips into activity that comes before meaning – and meaningless times spent glued to a screen.
Rest, renewal, and reflection are gifts – gifts we shouldn’t overlook, or waste. Sabbath reminds us that we are not defined by the work we do – or confined by it. Sabbath is the gift of time to watch the sunrise or sunset, to read a good book for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment of it, to sit on the porch with friends and neighbors, or spend time in the kitchen or wood shop making something to be enjoyed. It’s the gift of being before doing.
“Frantic and ineffective activity” is not inevitable. Sabbath is possible – but it must be chosen. And when we choose Sabbath, the rest of life – and the rest of life – come into clearer focus.