Slow Down to Speed Up

April 5, 2012

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Society would tell us achievement is based on doing more. God says the opposite.

I recently returned from a family holiday, camping in a beautiful South African river valley. There was no cell phone service, so we were completely unplugged. We had a wonderful four days of rest and relaxation as a family without the constant buzzing of our phones to drag our thoughts back to work and ministry.

We left work right in the middle of a very key decision for our campus. Being out of reach forced us to delegate, trust others and God, and leave our cares behind.

God gave a similar piece of advice to Israel. Ok, let’s call it like it is. He gave them a commandment in a list that defines sin! God told Israel to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

This command is the most surprising of the list, the one modern believers often feel at liberty to disobey. The penalty in the Old Testament for breaking the Sabbath was death (Exodus 31:15).

Really? Death for not taking a day off? Not resting put in the same category as adultery or murder? We would never feel the freedom to not keep those commandment, why do we feel released from this one?

God modeled this commandment in Genesis when He rested on the seventh day, some rabbis suggest He may have created rest, peace, and solitude itself on that seventh day.

The heart of the matter is one of trust. By honoring the Sabbath, we declare that God is our source, that God will help us to do in six days what we believe we need seven for.

If God is our reality, we can and should rest. God says it is sin if we do not. At its essence, the sin comes when we declare we do not trust in God as our source and sufficiency.

When we emerged to the world of connectivity, the key decision was made, the deal was done. God had done it, others had stepped up, and the work of the ministry had moved forward; all without us!

Society says hard work brings success. God values commitment and effort. But His ways suggest a rhythm of life. Each week, each season, each year; needs to include times of rest.

God says we speed up by slowing down.

Juliet Schor, in her book, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline Of Leisure, shows how across the board Americans have 1/3 less leisure (or rest) time than in previous generations. Stress is up; resulting in medical problems, failed marriages, and unparented children. Most people are sleep deprived. Maybe this is why God called it sin.

God says we should trust Him, not our own ability to accomplish the task. When we do this, delegating along the way, it forces us to trust others as well.

I vividly remember an incident early in my missions life. I mentioned to a friend I was preparing to speak on rest. He mocked me saying, “You are going to teach missionaries about rest!”

I changed my message out of peer pressure. Missionaries were likely some who needed it the most.

Rest is an essential discipline of the Christian life, just like Bible Reading or prayer.

God says not doing it is sin. (His words not mine)

At its root, not resting is trusting ourselves over our Creator that made us with a need to slow down.

What practices do you employ to slow down so you can speed up?

Some links are affiliate links. Photo credit: mine:)

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God