Why is it sometimes difficult to give ourselves permission to slow down? The tendency for many of us is to think that we should be busy doing something every minute. If we are not working, going somewhere, or making plans to go or do, the mindset is often that we will be seen as lazy, unpopular, or boring. Sadly, constantly being on the go has become the norm, and in some ways this kind of mentality is kin to the old adage of "keeping up with the Joneses"!
Well meaning parents sign their children up for every appealing activity that comes along, teaching them that this fast paced life style is the way life is suppose to be. While wanting to stimulate a child's mind and body, and help them gain an interest in something that will hopefully keep them out of trouble is not bad in itself, the problem comes in with overload.
Going from soccer practice to little league, from dance lesson to swim class, etc, all one week, (In some instances all in one day!) is not always healthy for the child. To be constantly on the go leaves little room for a child to learn the importance of relaxing, experience the joy or creativity that can come from spending time at home, and getting to know oneself without external bombardments of people, places, and activities. This child will also find it challenging at best when, as an adult, they learn that slowing ones life down is good for both body and soul.
As adults, whether we are running here and there for ourselves, for our family, work, or whatever, we can become so pushed for time that it is next to impossible to stop and consider how to take care of ourselves properly. With this in mind, is it any wonder that ours is a nation where so many people are on depression or anti-anxiety medication?
As Christians, we should know better! We believe the Bible to be the very word of God written to the world. Countless times the scriptures both tell and show us that God created us with specific needs. High on the list is the need to slow down...to be still and contemplate the character of God.
To some, the Ten Commandments are seen as harsh rules given by a controlling God ready to zap anyone who breaks even one of them. Others see them as laws that were done away with when Jesus died on the cross. The healthier, and I believe more in line with God's character, is to view the Commandments as directions set forth by an all knowing God to guide us to paths of health, safety, and happiness.
We do not throw the 10 Commandments out, but rather, since Christ's life on earth, we now we look at them in the light of love rather than rules that we must obey or be zapped! So, where does our slowing down and taking time be still before the Lord fit in with the 10 Commandments?
Jesus combined two of the scriptures from the Torah. Splicing together Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind," as the greatest commandment, and Leviticus 19:18, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," as the second greatest, and it is under these two that each of the 10 Commandments, and every other part of God's written word, falls.
The fourth commandment is key to this discussion, "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Six days you shall work, but the 7th day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall do no work..........". It goes on to give specific instructions about this gift of resting, and how to spend our holy time with God.
Out of our love for the God who created us, and who loves us more profoundly than we could ever imagine, we have been given a directive to regularly engage in Sabbath rest…a time to be still before the Lord. We have even been given the directive to see to it that those for whom we are responsible take Sabbath breaks as well.
If we are to take the first and greatest commandment of loving God seriously, we will obey all of God's laws, even the 4th one dealing with Sabbath rest. And, concerning the second greatest commandment, that of loving ourselves and loving others just as much, we would do well to ask ourselves these questions...
- Do I love God more than the busyness of my life?
- How can I love others well if I do not love myself well?
- How can I love myself well if I do not slow down and refuse to let the world get the upper hand on my schedule?
I am ending with a quote that has become one of my favorites. I hope it will bless you as much as it has me.
"Stop. Listen. There's something sacred in this moment and it's calling your name!"
It is by Karla Kincannon, and taken from her book, Creativity and Divine Surprise.