Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27 NIV)
Richard Swenson, M.D., author of the book MARGIN wrote: Something is wrong. People are tired and frazzled. People are anxious and depressed. People don’t have the time to heal anymore. There is a psychic instability in our day that prevents peace from implanting itself very firmly in the human spirit.
Swenson calls the problem marginless living. “Margin,” he says, “is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed.”
Jesus understood better than most the need for margin. He called it Sabbath. To Jesus the Sabbath was not created for its own sake; it was a gift of God to man. Its purpose was not to put man in a kind of straight jacket. It was for his good--to provide rest from labor and opportunity for worship.
We work in a world cursed by sin. That makes work difficult and draining. It taxes us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Sabbath compensates us for the energy we spend dealing with our own sins and the challenges of working through life with other sinners. We need Sabbath time. It restores us.
Pastoral work doesn’t require much in the way of physical labor. But it does demand a lot of psychological energy and careful concentration on multiple strands of information and people problems. It is stress inducing. Motorcycling on roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and Cherohala Skyway is one of the things that restore me. The physical exertion of wrestling a six-hundred pound bike through the mountains at speed, the concentration required keeping it from sliding off a cliff and the sheer joy of experiencing grass, tree, granite and sky in beautiful combination puts something back in that work takes out. It drains me physically but restores me spiritually. It helps me think about things that the normal flow of life prohibits.
God wants us to be strengthened by the gift of Sabbath. But like so many gifts, we have to learn to use it. Often all that is needed is the setting aside of a day, like Sunday, for worship and celebration and rest. But sometimes we need more than that. I find Sabbath on two wheels on the BRP. Do you know what restores you? Do you know how to find Sabbath? Do you know how to find rest?
It is one of the most important things you can do. For, when a man or woman is not resting, he is not reflecting, he is not thinking about the things that are most important in life, he’s not thinking about what he’s investing his precious, limited time and energy in. When we’re resting, when we’re still and quiet, that is when we can here the Spirit whisper– what is your life worth? What will you have done with the days I gave you when at last they are through?