I open the diary for the week and it lies before me crisp and clean. Then I put in my appointments, my obligations, add a few from my to-do list. Add a few urgent “must do” items, the “have to” items and pretty soon it is so full, there is not time for the “get to” items. I am sure this feeling is familiar to most of us. We long for the weekends where we may find a moment that is not allocated to doing something.
Somehow our time is always ruled by the rule of usefulness! Everything we do is tested against the principle: is it useful. If it is not, then time given to it is wasted. It is precisely this focus on usefulness (or utility) that slowly takes all the joy out of our existence. We worship the god of utility, where everything we do and are is justified on the grounds of usefulness.
Our activities get relegated to useful use of our time, or not. Soon, as adults, our existence is all about obligation, all work and no play.
No wonder, life gets dull.
Play, is not just for kids. Adults play too, usually it’s called leisure time activities. Play is what brings enjoyment to life, often we do these play activities for the sake of doing them, because we enjoy them and not because they are useful. They make us feel more like ourselves, more alive. It benefits us mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually, but the moment we do it for it’s benefits, it ceases to be enjoyable. Play is not business as usual, it is touching the joy of heaven.
When usefulness starts to rule our lives, it also rules our time. We lose the ability to play because we believe we have no time to waste.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11
Our God is God of all time and He never determined that every minute of our lives must be spent on something useful. That is why He created the Sabbath, and kept it Himself. Not because He needed to rest, but because He wanted us to know that He gives us time to rest. He wants us to rest, to play and touch the joy of heaven, we may “waste time” to rest, because in the process we gain life.
The Sabbath and rest IS designed and given FOR us. All the other days were given to work and usefulness, but the Sabbath is for fun, play, rest. God said to me:
Isaiah 30:15 “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
There are so many days that I have moaned about everything I have to do, and the length of my to-do list. So many nights I have gone to bed, in my heart objecting to the obligations I have had to fulfill today and every other day. I look at my fun hobbies and wonder if “I will ever get the time to do that.” I look at the calendar and wonder if there will ever be an opportunity to just do “what I want to do for a change.” I object to my life, I object to having to be useful all the time.
Then when I do something that hints at playing, I feel guilty because I am wasting time, not using my time effectively and how can I moan at my children for wasting time, if I myself am not doing something useful right now. It is like a vicious circle.
Till I realized that God wanted me to rest, to cease from my own agenda and obligations in time and pursue time with Him. Time to reflect, renew my trust, think about life, enjoy my family and overflow in thankfulness. He reminded me that when He had planned my life, He planned enough time, for me to fulfill all my obligations as well as rest. He knows we all have responsibilities, so for that reason He created the Sabbath rest and encourages us to rest in Him. In the words of Mark Buchanan:
Sabbath Rest is to cease from that which is necessary every day, and pursue that which gives us life.
Sabbath is not about being idle, or wasting time, it is about ceasing with obligation and embracing the things that give us life. To cease is to come to an end, to stop, to finish, to wind up, to halt. We have permission to stop, God says we can. He who controls time, holds eternity in His hand as my inheritance of eternal life. To pursue life is to chase after, to follow, to go after.
What gives you life? What makes you feel alive again, brings you closer to a belly laugh? What would an abundant life look like for you? What would make life feel like abundance to you, meaningful? What produces adrenaline, laughter, memories? For one it may be a hot bubble bath or a glass of wine in the garden. For another it may be playing with the kids or going for a game of tennis. Yet another loves a hike or a parachute jump. We know what it is we enjoy, what makes us feel alive. Let’s cease with the guilt and embrace the rest God has given us.
Quality of life is that God meant there to be a difference between our days of work and our days of rest.
Thank you, Lord, that You give us life and every day of our lives. Help me to mindful that You hold my time in Your hands and I do not have control over time. Help me to fulfill my obligations, but to not become consumed by usefulness. Help me to play, to pursue life, to pursue You. Help me to surrender it all, and seek You out.