Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Time for Everything...Except for Rest

Source: xkcd

I was looking over the results of an anonymous survey I gave to a small group of high school students regarding their thoughts on the Bible, and I noticed a pattern:

For the question, "what keeps you from reading the Bible?" the answer nearly every student checked was, "I don't have time."

Other answers--"I don't think it's relevant," "I don't understand it," etc.--were left unchecked. The issue wasn't desire or an acknowledgement of the value of reading Scripture. The issue appeared to be busyness.

Spiritually, this feels akin to "I don't have time to eat food" or "I don't have room in my schedule for drinking water."

Solomon (and The Byrds) both famously wrote, "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." In a hurried and busy society, this can sound either like a pipe dream ("there's no time for all the things I need to do!") or a burden ("every activity under heaven...that's a lot of activity").

In a culture that values immediacy, our time is a precious commodity. How we spend it, use it, abuse it, steward it, and manage it reflects the values of our heart.

Does that mean we need to reorient our calendars to spend an hour of our day reading the Bible, doing devotionals, having a "quiet time?" Maybe. But rather than turn God's Word into another activity to get done on our ever-increasing checklist, it's more important to ponder and reflect upon God's Word throughout our day, taking on a posture of praying continually and meditating on it day and night.

What if our youth ministries and churches were beacons of hope and rest for people in the midst of their busyness? What if the church community was a place that valued slowing down, giving time to pray and read and reflect? What if the overly-rushed and hurried youth in our school and neighbourhoods could find a community of peace and quiet?

What if we were less purpose- and program-driven and more prayerful, peaceful, and present?

This is not a new problem (as indicated by the quotes from the xkcd comic above). But it's a simple one to address. God gave us the solution right from the beginning: Sabbath.

I love that our church is going to try a Spirit-led experiment this next fall: for one week, every other month, we're canceling all of our programs. All of 'em. No children's ministry. No youth group. No Alpha course or marriage courses or Bible studies or Life Groups. Instead, we'll gather together for one night and simply pray. We'll listen for the voice of the Lord in community, together, no other agenda, nothing else on the calendar.

That's it. Less busy. More prayer. A church on its knees, experimenting with Sabbath rest.

How are you practicing Sabbath in your own life and ministry?

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