November 5, 2012

The Invitation to be Attentive


...rest for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat. ~Lauren F. Winner Mudhouse Sabbath
In the Bible, Sabbath rest means to cease regularly from and to enjoy the results of your work… Although Sabbath rest receives a much smaller amount of time than work, it is a necessary counterbalance so that the rest of your work can be good and beneficial. ~Tim Keller
I see the posts pup-up on my feed quite often: How to Get More Done in Less Time, 30 Different Ways to Promote More Efficiency, Organize Your Time, Time Management 101, 15 Tips to Becoming More Productive... and on and on the list goes. Our culture is obsessed with making the most of the time... because "life is short" after all. Shouldn't we carpe diem while we can? "We live in a world where productivity and efficiency are the benchmarks of a life well lived" (Slow Down). If you open up your newspaper (yes, they still exist in print) and turn to the obituaries, it's not uncommon for a person's work to be mentioned. We define ourselves by not just our family, hobbies, and interests, but we place our identity in our work as well. It's understandable since we spend the majority of our days, hours, minutes at work... but at what cost? Please don't hear me say that work is bad. It's not. Work is a good thing, and God scolds those who are lazy throughout Scripture, but God also gave us this gift of Sabbath (Shabbat):
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. ~Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV
Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. ~Exodus 20:8 NLT
And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." ~Mark 2:27-28 ESV
Sabbath is a holy day. Maybe when you read that your mind conjured up various images and thoughts of stiff people or church legalities. You and I have a tendency to just go there mentally when we hear that word: holy. But 'holy" in the context of Sabbath simply means to be "set-apart" from all the other days of the week. It's special. It's unlike the other six.

Sabbath is a gift to you and I from God to enjoy and delight in. Sabbath it a time of remembering, reflecting... exercising our memories of all that God has been to us and all that He has given us. Sabbath is for worship. Sabbath it for putting down the paperwork, for taking the day off of whatever labor you may keep busy with. Sabbath is for family and friends while remaining fully present. Sabbath is for picking up a novel you've been wanting to read for months, shooting some hoops, pulling out the game boards, sneaking off of weekend getaway trips, relaxing on your couch with take-out and a movie, or one of my favorites, napping. Sabbath is for feasting, fun, and yes, partying! Sabbath is a grace extended towards us to be attentive to our family, friends, food, our bodies, our minds, and our worship:
...we're called to sanctify Sabbath, literally to betroth it, to think of it as our bride. We're called to take time each week--whether Sunday or another day--and treat it with an extra measure of reverence, to live in it with a higher degree of attentiveness. ~Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God
Work will always be waiting for you and I to do. It hounds us to get things done. It sneers and ridicules us, "You're not really working as hard as you could... you don't deserve to rest. Get up, get busy. You've got a list of things to accomplish. Produce, preform, and perfect that which you do." All the while Jesus is calling, "Come, sit with me. Let's feast at the banquet table for a while." It's an invitation.

In the gospels we're introduce to two sisters, Mary and Martha, who had extended hospitality to Jesus and His disciples by opening their home to them. Martha was preoccupied with cleaning and cooking, but Mary decided to sit at Jesus feet and listen to Him speak with her. Mary chose to be attentive to her Lord. Mary chose "the better portion" that day. I don't know about you, but I want to make that same decision; to accept the invitation, receive the gift, Christ, and enjoy Him and His blessings. This is the heartbeat of Sabbath: being attentive. There's a time for work, but then there's a time for being attentive... for paying attention to the beauty in Christ, in our relationships with one another, and to His Blessings.
...this is the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment. It is the trained ability to inhabit our own existence without remainder, so that even the simplest things--the in and out of our breathing, the coolness of tiles on our bare feet, the way wind sculpts clouds into crocodiles and polar bears--gain the force of discovery and revelation. True attentiveness burns away the layers of indifference... and distraction--all those attitudes that blend our days into a monochrome sameness--and reveals what's hidden beneath: the staggering surprise and infinite variety of every last little thing. ~Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God
To rest for the sake of being more productive establishes a wrong heart posture and attitude towards Sabbath. Over the next few weeks, we'll unpack how to cultivate that heart that delights and savors the Sabbath and rest.

*Awesome books of Sabbath/rest to add to your reading lists (and that I will be quoting often)...

7 comments :

  1. Thanks, Natalie. I needed this today. After starting my new work of university, yesterday was the very first Sabbath I've taken. Thanks for this good post affirming my choice.

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  2. Hmm I like that. I haven't thought of making the connection between rest and attentiveness. It really makes sense though and opens a few doors in my mind. Nice job.

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  3. so convicting for me. i don't remember the last time I had a real Sabbath

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  4. This is exactly what our society needs to read right now. And me as well. I have a hard time just relaxing, having fun and spending time in God's Word. Definitely something I want to re-learn. I've read some of the books you recommended and can't wait to read the rest!

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  5. I struggle with being a Martha ALL the time! This post was just what I needed tonight! Thanks Natalie!

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  6. Thank you for the sweet comment, it's so good to be (somewhat) among the blogging! :)
    Such rich things to think about concerning a day of rest... I loved list of suggestions, like shooting hoops and reading novels. I get caught up in the "need" of practical things to be done! Its so freeing to be reminded that we can play, too.
    I also appreciated the significance in resting while investing in our dearest relationships. That's one thing I have always respected about congregations that don't gather on Sunday evenings, but leave that last weekend-night free for families to rest and be together before work starts again.
    Gooooood stuff sister, can't wait to read more!

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  7. especially loved this one! sabbaths are what make life sweet!

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