It’s early; way too early. I will for my brain to stop thinking so that I can drift off once again for a few precious moments, but that rarely happens. I’m awake.
And once I'm up I love this early hour. The city sounds are different. The river is quiet; the ferries don't start their zigzag up and down the river until after 5:30 am, and I am awake far too early. It's beautiful. The early sunlight is clear and yellow. The traffic on the bridge nearby is usually drowned out by the construction of the slowing growing building nearby and the general city buzz, but every sound is more defined in the early morning.
The sounds are different, but it’s not really what you would call quiet. If I closed up the windows I could make it quieter, but that isn’t the point. I don’t mind the hum of activity in the background. The city is always alive, always moving. It never sleeps, and it never stops. Ever.
There is always something happening, always. I find it quite fascinating. What are all these people doing, driving across the bridge before 5:30 in the morning? Where are they going on this Thursday morning? To work? All of them?
It’s hard to go slow in the city.
I love to walk down to the mall in the centre of town a few blocks away. There is a farmer’s market there every Wednesday morning where I can buy fresh, local fruit and veggies, baked goods, roasted nuts and warm flaky croissants. I wander down on my day off, seeing what I can see along the way. A city is a fascinating place!
But there comes a point when I am only a few streets away from the centre when things speed up. The volume of the crowd starts to push in and the pace picks up. The crowd has its own pace, and it's practically impossible to slow down and force the intent mob to sidestep me in the congestion.
These are workers on their lunch break, executives with meetings to get to and deadlines to meet; friends who are meeting and women who are shopping, stepping over busker’s hats with loose change. It’s a buzz, and I love it, but it’s fast passed, and it’s hard to walk slowly when the people pressing around you are in a hurry. I have to keep in step with the crowd, follow the pace of the group, keep up or get knocked over.
At first, I found it confronting, annoying. I wanted to yell at everyone, “Slow down.” I wanted to notice things; to stop and appreciate the sculptures in the street and the architecture of the old buildings. But it seemed that everyone else had somewhere they needed to be, and they were already late.
It’s hard to slow down in a fast-paced world. We are surrounded, hemmed in, and we need to keep up.
It might be obvious in the city centre at lunchtime, but it is just as true for almost everyone I know. There is a natural pace of modern life, and it’s fast. Anyone with a job, or a family, or a ministry feels the pressure to keep up the pace. The world is changing rapidly, and we need to keep up or become irrelevant. For our kids to be equipped and our businesses to be successful and our churches to be relevant, we need to keep moving, keep changing, keep pushing.
So how do we slow down in our faced-paced world? How do we find a sustainable pace when everything is going so fast?
God had a plan all along. From the very beginning, God designed a pattern of work and rest that would give us the very best of both worlds – work and rest.
The Sabbath is a day of rest that prepares us for six days of work. We can work harder and be more productive when we are well rested. Sabbath doesn’t make us lazy. Taking a Sabbath rest actually helps us to work harder.
Taking a day off helps us keep God in His rightful place as Lord. The world doesn't stop when we do. We can be reminded that it's okay for us not to be in control of everything because God is! Stopping our striving, even just for one day, reminds us to trust God and not ourselves. He provides for us; we don't provide for Him.
The most meaningful and precious moments of our lives come from the connections we make with one another. Living in the same house doesn't necessarily mean that we are nurturing a meaningful connection. We can simply co-exist in the busyness of family life. We build genuine relationships over slow meals, unhurried conversations, and shared fun. Away from work, we can invest time in the people who matter most.
The Sabbath is not just about taking a day off work, it is about spending intentional time in worship. Similar to cultivating family relationships, God is with us every moment of every day, but there is something very special about the unhurried time we spend with God. There are many different ways to connect with God. Whatever it looks like for you, plan it and make it a priority, regularly.
What does the Sabbath look like today? I don't live under Old Testament law. I will not be stoned to death for working seven days a week. I was reminded in a sermon recently, that keeping the Sabbath is the only one of the ten commandments that we regularly boast about breaking. It may not be the law, but it is an important biblical principle for us to follow. So, what does a modern-day Sabbath look like?
The biblical Sabbath is from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Many Christians today have a day of rest on Sunday, but being in vocational ministry, Sunday is not a rest day for me. Usually, my day off is Friday. I sleep in if I can and have a slow morning, drinking coffee in my pyjamas and watching morning television. I read my Bible and journal, sometimes doing something creative like scripture writing. I like to read, take a nap, do some sewing on my quilt and wander along the river.
And, Friday night is usually date night. My husband and I always look forward to reconnecting on Friday night after another long and stressful week.
I don’t do a lot of housework on Friday. I try to ignore emails until Monday when I can. You are likely to find me lounging on the couch with dirty dishes in the sink, and I’m okay with that. I have my most creative ideas on Fridays. I think of solutions to problems that have been bugging me all week. I breath more deeply, feel the breeze on my face, taste my coffee, enjoy my view. Relax, refresh, recreate.
My life is full of blessings and wonderful people. But if I don’t slow down occasionally, I don’t notice them. I just feel exhausted and stressed all the time. How about you? Do you need to take a day off?