“I feel as if God had, by giving the Sabbath, given fifty-two springs in each year.”
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In my younger days, I worked as a computer programmer. While this did not become my life’s calling, I learned some things that have proved useful. As a result, I am often called upon for help when a family member’s digital device is acting up. One of the most basic strategies I’ve learned is that it’s good to reboot your devices every so often. This is especially true of computers and smartphones, though it can also apply to tablets, digital music players, and Roku streaming sticks.
Anne Lamott writes, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. That includes you.” What’s true for our technology, which can bog down and stall out as it runs multiple processes for weeks on end, is also true for us as humans. Rebooting a phone or a computer reinitializes its internal processes, allowing the device to work more efficiently. Taking the evening off, enjoying a rest day, or going on vacation, are all means of disengaging from our day-in, day-out responsibilities, enabling us to return to work renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated.
You too can look like a tech genius if you know the power of the reset button. But more to my point, true wisdom lies in understanding the value of regular rest and restoration. The fourth commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.” Christians through the years have sought to live out the wisdom of this foundational commandment, which has to do with creating regular space for worship and renewal. While Jesus did challenge some of the rules that had grown up around the practice of sabbath, he said that “the sabbath was made for humankind,” affirming that God intended sabbath as gift and blessing.
Ceasing from work one day in seven is a vital practice. If we never slow down, if we never cease producing, we can get stuck in frantic mode: frantic work, frantic leisure, frantic exercise, frantic consumption, frantic relationships, and frantic rest (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Practicing sabbath provides us with a weekly reset, a change of pace, space to breathe, time to worship, and opportunities to be reinvigorated physically, emotionally, and spiritually. May God bless you with deeper faith and greater health as you creatively and regularly practice sabbath.