Maybe you’re old enough to remember the primitive age when, in order to make a phone call, you had to stick your finger in a disc and rotate it seven whole times. If making a long-distance call, you had to rotate it… ten times. Ten! Even worse, if dialing the numbers 8, 9 or 0, you had to make almost a complete 360 turn.
Now, as quick as one says, “Hey, Siri, call Mike,” the call is made.
Yes, things are faster than ever before. Remember when the first computers stunned us with a one-megahertz CPU—one million computations a second? A million! Today, instead of millions per second the average home computer can compute in the billions per second, a speed that 30 years ago a computer the size of an SUV couldn’t reach.
And mail? We can get in seconds mail that used to take days or even weeks to arrive.
And, yet, there’s a painful sort of irony here, isn’t there? No matter how much faster our computers, or our cell phones, or our Internet service—no matter how much faster we can get our work done, or contact family, friends, spouses, children, in some cases instantaneously, who among us feels less harried, less stressed, less busy? Who has more time than ever to luxuriate in the closeness with others that we all crave?
When was the last time you heard someone, or even yourself, say: “Wow, with my laptop computing 1.5 billion computations per second, so much faster than my last one, and my new fiber-optic cable giving me faster Internet, I now have more free time to bond with my spouse”?
It just doesn’t work that way. Instead, our caffeinated (or even amphetamine driven) lives can sometimes seem overwhelming, with so many things to do: bills to be paid, groceries to be got, kids to be raised, houses to be taken care of, and on and on. Who has time for the kind of nearness, the kind of intimacy, the kind of emotional bonding that we all long for and need? It’s painfully ironic, too, that even in the age of social media, when we can have thousands of “friends,” many are starving for an emotional intimacy that all the “likes” on a Facebook page can never give. (Though called “Facebook,” you’re never, really, face-to-face, are you?)
The Bible offers us a solution. That’s because it offers us all, every week without exception, what we all long for, and that is rest. Rest from the hustle, the haranguing and the stress of just trying to get by. Imagine having one whole day set aside, every week, week after week, where bills to pay, meetings to attend and problems in the office are just not allowed to interfere with what all those bills, meetings and problems in the office were all ultimately for in the first place—that is, your loved ones. Imagine one whole day a week where you and your spouse can share moments of closeness, of intimacy, of emotional fusing that, sometimes, just seems impossible because of some much else going on.
In the Bible there is a day called “The Sabbath” (from a Hebrew word that means “to cease”). It involves ceasing from all the work that you do during that week and, instead, using the time for what really matters. A day to renew ties, to renew your physical strength and to get closer to those whom you love more than life itself.
The Sabbath is important, too. So important, actually, that it’s one of the Ten Commandments. Right there with the “Thou shalt nots” (Not kill, not steal, not lie) is one of the Bible’s positive commands: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates” – Exodus 20: 8-10.
Look at that! No work—not you, not your family, not your domestic employees, not anyone in your home. It’s a time to rest, relax and rebuild what can so often be lost amid the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s as if, even thousands of years ago, God knew how emotionally, spiritually and physically draining the mere daily act of living can be! And so He gave us this weekly rest so that, from our cells to our souls, we can be revitalized.
Richelle E. Goodrich wrote:
“One day a week I seek to rest from earthly toil and sorrow.
Revitalized, I find the strength to battle new tomorrows.”
To put it another way, Lily Tomlin said: “The trouble with the rat race is that, even if you win, you’re still a rat.” In other words, the Sabbath is a way to maintain our humanity and the things that truly make us human. And what makes us more human than the bonds that only we can know, bonds that (ironically enough) the faster our phones and computer are can get even more frayed and broken than before? The Sabbath, the Sabbath rest, is God’s remedy for us and our often wearied souls.
Written By Clifford Goldstein