No, it’s not a typo… I didn’t forget to complete the title.
It’s a indictment on our crazy lives. We’re so go-oriented that we’ve forgotten how to stop... how to recharge and renew ourselves.
The topic of stopping also happens to be the Fourth Commandment on God’s top 10 list:
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.” (Ex 20:8–10 NLT)
And you don’t have to look much farther in Scripture to realize that God takes this command seriously. Just look at the consequences of ignoring this God-ordained rest:
“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.” (Ex 31:15 NLT)
Seriously? Put to death? Surely that’s a metaphor for something…?
Or it could just mean what it says: death… as in no longer living, or breathing.
Wow… God sure is mean!
Or maybe God is smart. Maybe God, the Creator of the Universe who shaped the first human from the dust of the earth, knows more about what makes us tick than we do!
And when it comes to being put to death, neither God nor God’s people need to lift a finger. It seems we’re doing a pretty good job of killing ourselves.
Psychologist Archibald Hart estimates that about half of Americans cannot fall asleep at night, and one in six American adults suffers from chronic insomnia (Frazee, 77).
“So I lose a little sleep,” you say, “What’s the big deal?”
Consider these other issues caused by lack of sleep (Frazee, 78,79)
- Decreased productivity
- Decreased melatonin (the brain’s natural tranquilizer), which can lead to…
- Increased anxiety and irritability, which can lead to…
- Strained or broken relationships
Does anyone else see the irony that is a result of our driven society and our lack of sleep? Consider why we’re working longer and more frantically. It’s usually because we want to:
- Get more done
- Feel good about our accomplishments (perhaps even gain status)
- Have security (and thus be at peace)
- Provide for our loved ones
Yet our overworked, overstressed, and over-scheduled lives are actually yielding the opposite results! (Compare our motives in the second list with our results in the first list). Who could have seen that one coming?
Well… God could. Perhaps that’s why the fourth commandment is the only one that starts with a reminder to “Remember….” God only knows how quickly we can get caught up in a self-induced frenzy.
But it isn’t all bad news… the opposite is true as well (i.e., when we follow the rules, we get the benefits!).
Author and Medical Doctor Matthew Sleeth reports a study that went in search of people who lived longer, healthier lives. Some of the findings won’t surprise you, but the last two might. According to this study, people who lived longer and healthier lives:
- Didn’t smoke or eat high animal fat diets
- Walked… a lot
- Valued family and relationships
- Knew how to stop (i.e., regularly took times of rest and renewal)
In the US., this study found a group of 7th Day Adventists from Loma Linda, California. While I don’t agree with their theology, there is no denying two facts:
- They take the Sabbath day very seriously, and
- They live an average of 12 years longer than other population groups in the US.
Dr. Sleeth summarizes it this way:
“It may be coincidence, but the Bible hints at a cause-and-effect relationship between keeping the Sabbath and living a long life. Living 24/7 is life draining; living 24/6 is life giving.” (Sleeth, 102)
I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I think God knew exactly what God wanted for us when the 4th Commandment was issued: a long, healthy life.
Wow… God sure is good!
How do you “Stop?” What is the biggest obstacle to you observing a regular Sabbath? What advice would you give to others on stopping?
EXTRAS (Two great books on trading chaos for God-ordained rest… click on the links for more info):
- Frazee, Randy (2003). Making Room for Life. Zondervan Publishers
- Sleeth, Matthew (2012). 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life. Tyndale House Publishers.
- Top News: The importance of a ‘stop day’ (cnn.com)