When I was young I remember singing the song We Will Work, Work, Work Until Jesus Comes. It was tiring just singing it. We have bought into the Protestant work ethic. Is your job the Stress Factory? Should our generation stamp our T-shirts with Gotta Go? We are late for the next thing we have to do. I would guess that none of us have heard a sermon on rest. That may be why people sleep through sermons entitled "We will work, work, work until Jesus comes."
The pace of life is as important as the principles. Many times it is our pace that keeps us from practicing His principles. Have you been late for a flight? How do you act? Are you encouraging to all those around you? Do you help little ladies with their baggage? NO! I have actually run over little old ladies on the way to a flight. Why? The pace of my life when I am late is all about me. We act like jerks when we are late — I know, because I have been one.
Jesus came that we might have life to the fullest. His pace was a pace of grace. He and the disciples enjoyed life even on the Sabbath, and it got them into big-time trouble. They had so much fun the religious people accused them of being drunkards, wine imbibers, and gluttons. I hope people say about me, "He has to have drunk more than Diet Coke; he is having way too much fun." Jesus came to liberate. He came not to add more regulations but to add more celebrations; not to add burdens but to bestow blessings. We can sing, "Joy to the world, the Lord is here!"
Each day, including Sunday, is a gift of God to enjoy, not endure. The Sabbath was made for man, and men need the Sabbath. Not the Sabbath of the Old Testament regulations, but a time of rest and reflection. It's a time to stop the pace of the race. We need time to regain our perspective about what is important and to refocus. When Jesus and the disciples were tired and needed a rest from the toils of ministry, He didn't say, "Hey guys, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Suck it up. We gotta go." Rather, He took them away to the desert to rest, to be rejuvenated, and to adopt the pace of grace.
The early church observed the Sabbath on the first day of the week because Christ was resurrected on the first day. It is a good day for us to resurrect the dreams He has placed inside of us — to focus on what is important. It is a time when God's people gather to refocus. It doesn't have to be solemn. We don't need a donkey face at church in order to take Him seriously.
During the gold rush there were two wagon trains headed for California. One was lead by a Christian man who decided they would stop weekly, worship God, rest, and rejuvenate. The other group decided that the best way to arrive first was to never stop and rest. Their modus operandi was "Gotta go!" Whoever arrived first had their names on the gold list — the first to get the gold.
Although they departed on the same day, the wagon train whose group worshipped and rested on the Lord's Day arrived in California first. Rest is part of the natural rhythm of life. We need to rest, relax, and focus on our faith, family, and friends.
Organize life so that on the Sabbath you make rest, refreshment, and rejuvenation a priority. Make it a special day. Your family will benefit from activities that restore, renew, and involve recreation. Recreation means re-creation. In other words, loosen your halo and have a little fun.
Is there anyone at your house that doesn't want to rest? What about the kids? Are they easy to get to bed and to take naps? What about teenagers? You can't get them to bed, you can't get them up. Small kids and teenagers don't understand the benefits of rest, but we're not much different. Let's grow up and set a time to rest and regain our perspective.
A friend of mine said that his dad hated traffic lights. He just couldn't believe it when he hit a red light. He was stressed! After he died, the policemen led the funeral procession down the street right through all of the traffic lights. His grandson thought that was great. "Look. Look. Granddaddy gets to go through all of the lights without stopping." Granddaddy is dead. He doesn't have to worry about lights. But, you know, the red lights can be a reminder that we need to relax. Spend time with God at the lights. You might even conclude that yellow means caution rather than to race faster. Many of us are racing through the caution lights of life on our way to a collision.
The fast lane just means we get to the end sooner. Where are you going at such a break-neck speed? I'll tell you where — to meet God. I know I'm supposed to encourage you, but I have to tell you the truth — you are going to die. Death runs in my family, and I assume it runs in yours. You came into this world with no teeth, no hair, no bladder control, and that is pretty much the way you will go out. So just don't do something, stand there! No, sit there — and rest. Then when you really have to go you'll be ready.