The Sabath Principal


I was recently speaking to a few fellow church leaders
about days off. One said she hardly ever got a day off as there was just so
much to do. Another colleague quickly responded – ‘So, you’re placing yourself
above God are you?’

That got everyone’s attention!

He had a very good point. The Bible tells us that God
worked for 6 days and rested on the seventh – so giving us a pattern for a
healthy rhythm of life. If God rested one day in seven, isn’t it a bit arrogant
not to do so? It’s certainly unhealthy in all sorts of ways. That conversation
was a wakeup call to all of us involved: It’s all too easy to be doing so much
that we forget that the Sabbath principle isn’t just good advice it’s a command
of God – for our own good.

By Sabbath principle I mean the evident truth that we all
need rest from our everyday work. For Christians it means remembering what
Jesus said; ‘People weren’t made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for
people.’ (Mark 2:27)

The idea is rest for the body and for the soul. It’s about
coming away from the pace of everyday life and seeking God. It is about doing
good as Jesus reminded us. It’s about reflection and it’s about listening to

The longer I’m a Christian the more I realise that
everything depends on developing ways of listening to God in the midst of a
busy and demanding world.

There’s a story about a man was having difficulty
communicating with his wife and concluded that she was becoming hard of

So he decided to conduct a test..... without her knowing
about it. One evening he sat in a chair on the far side of the room. Her back
was to him and she couldn’t see him.

Very quietly he whispered, "Can you hear me?"

There was no response.

Moving a little closer, he asked again, "Can you hear
me now?"

Still no reply; quietly he edged closer and whispered the
same words, but still no answer.

Finally, he moved right in behind her chair and said,
"Can you hear me now?"

To his surprise and chagrin, she responded with irritation
in her voice,

"For the
fourth time, yes!" (Pause)

The hearing problem is not with God. .....It’s with us!

The Sabbath principle is really all about listening to God
and it’s something we should apply more often than 1 day in 7. In a busy world
I myself find the need to establish a rhythm of work, rest, listening and
reflection each day. The reality is that there are days when this doesn’t
happen as I’d like it to. But I’m working at it!

Most of you will know that my Sabbatical begins on 12th
May for 3 months. The heart of this is about doing something other than my
normal job; it’s about a journey of discovery, reflection and rest. I think
above all it’s about taking time to really listen to God, about my own life,
about the life of my family and my churches. Specifically I’ll be looking at
patterns of discipleship in the early church and what patterns may work in the
very different world of the 21st century? How can we follow Jesus
with everything we’ve got in such a busy and sometimes confusing world?

I am very fortunate to be able to take this extended
period of time to do these things and I hope to return at the end of the summer
with renewed strength and vision for our churches as we enter the next stage of
journey together.

But, here’s a challenge for you all while I’m away…

Can you find a way of applying the Sabbath principle to
your life a little more? Can you find more time to come away from the everyday?
Time to rest from it? To seek God and reflect on your life?

One thing I know for sure is that if we don’t, then life
will tend to pass us by. Jesus said he came to bring us life to the full… how
can we hope to experience it if we don’t listen to Him?

With love in Christ and blessings to you all for the