One of my favorite preachers for decades has been Earl Palmer. Years ago at a lunch table in Fresno a few of us young pastors hosted Earl before we heard him preach for the weekend. Among other things we discussed the hazards of ministry, including a work load that never stops. His response to the temptation to overwork was summed up in two words, “Stay rhythmic.” In his pithy inimitable way Earl was challenging us to live up to one of the great insights of the Bible: God’s Sabbatical rhythm of work and rest. Think of it, apart from the Bible would we have a work week—let alone a week-end? I think not.
The rhythm of work and rest was taken quite seriously by the Jewish people–so much so that Jesus was sometimes criticized for breaking Sabbath (e.g., Luke 13: 14ff). The rhythm of a seven-day week with rest on the last day is patterned after the story of creation in Genesis when God took six days to create the heavens and earth, but rested on the seventh day (Genesis 1:1 – 2:3). It is reinforced by the fourth commandment to “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.” Amazingly, the Jewish people gave all their animals, servants, and everyone else, one day in every seven to rest (Exodus 20: 8-11). This took great faith in the days when starvation could be one failed crop away. Yet, look at the way God prospered his people, even though they practiced the “lazy” routine of taking one day off per week to rest and worship. So, for all the workaholics who think you can not take a day off—pardon my exhortation–even God rests one day a week! Take a Sabbath; it’ll improve your life, relationships and work.
There are other rhythms in our Bible: things like drought and flood, prosperity and poverty, feasting and fasting. The latter comes to mind as we entered the season of Lent through the feasting of Mardi Gras and fasting after Ash Wednesday.
I am thankful to elder Lane Devries for preaching this first Sunday of Lent on the topic of living waters. Thanks, Lane and congregation, for allowing me a sabbatical week. The skiing, hiking, sledding and time spent in the mountains with family has been like cool water to a parched tongue. I look forward to coming home rested and ready to return to work.
Warmly in Christ,