How I Know Sabbath Worked [part 2]
If Sabbath is to be a time and space set apart and dedicated to remembering God Creator and Redeemer, as I’ve discussed before, then along with forming in us a renewed and refreshed whole being concentrated on the Three-in-One God Creator/Redeemer, Sabbath must also be a time and space that works to flatten our idols – anything that has assumed the throne of creator/redeemer in our lives – including that of time and space itself; the one we barely realize is an idol at all.
So here are 4 indicators that have helped me identify when taking a Sabbath has worked; has actually flattened the idol of time and space in the life I live and put them back in their proper place:
1. I lose track of time. Not in the sense of rushing about, always late, spouting out the excuse, “I’m sorry. I lost track of time.” That would indicate idolatry; time still owns you. Rather, losing track of time in the sense of honestly forgetting what time it is or what day it is because you’re nicely in step with God; His time instead. Perhaps you’ve done this while on holiday in the past. Your day(s) is so unhurried and unhindered that ticking off the minutes and hours has fallen off the list of priority. You move from one event to the next without deadline or time restraint. Rest awakens as alarm clocks are turned off. Meals are appreciated less for being on time so you can get somewhere next, and more for simply being on the table. Patience emerges as the last one to go to the bathroom before leaving the house isn’t hurried along for being late. And at some point you turn to those near you and ask, “What time is it?” or even more startling for people, “What day is it again?”
2. Spaces blur together. It’s easy, in the daily-ness of our lives, to sanctify one space over and above another; to assume being at home is better than being at work or being at church is better than being in a restaurant. Almost without notice we place values on spaces and exalt one space above another creating in us disdain or even prejudices toward certain spaces. (Admittedly, we do this with more than just space for sure.) Here we are serving space; this space more joyfully than that space, but serving none-the-less. The truth is there is no space that is more sacred or set apart than another. As we lose track of time during Sabbath, we also find the boundaries we build around all the different spaces in our lives break down and we end up with a single space in which we can really live. One space is not demanding our attention more than another and we can find God Creator/Redeemer in every space we inhabit. Whether at home or away, you’re in God’s space.
3. Reflection becomes reality. Who of us haven’t sat around and reminisced about the good old days? Doesn’t seem to matter how old you are, there was always a day some time ago that was slower and less complicated than today. Usually it was when we had fewer responsibilities and less technological encumbrances. Often it was when we were children. Somewhere along the way, however, we seem to resign ourselves to that time being back there somewhere; a fond memory at best. Well, Sabbath ought to bring that time back to us. (Notice, it oughtn’t bring us back to that time. Keep in mind what serves who here.) It ought to slow time in such a way that the leisurely goodness of yesteryear becomes the here and now. At the end of Sabbath the words, “remember when…” will mean little more than “I can’t wait until…” In fact, at the end of Sabbath, both our reflections and our anticipations ought to live in submission to the realness and goodness of right now.
4. Re-entry feels easy. Taking a Sabbath or going on holiday doesn’t last forever. At least not on this side of heaven. Eventually we face the reality of “life as we knew it” or better understood as re-entry. Here is the heart check: Does this reality feel easy? By “easy” what I mean is smooth or effortless. Has the burden of re-assuming the tasks of your vocation faded into an ease or a lightened load…or not? Conversely, I do not suggest “easy” in the sense of excitement or “finally!” Frankly, there should never be an excitement to rejoin that which has generated in us a subtle idolatry to something as helpless as our calendars. If an escape from the slowness of stopping and resting is what re-entry means to you, Sabbath was misused or misunderstood. There are still idols that need flattening. At the end of Sabbath, you can know it worked if you “move into a season of daily tasks” more so than you “go back to work,” whether at home or otherwise.
There you have it. I’m sure there are others. You’ll likely generate your own list at the end of taking a Sabbath or going on holiday. Mostly keep in mind this Sabbath thing is a gift from God designed to achieve in us and for us a deepened adoration of God Creator/Redeemer. If, at the end of it all, there are the above four things, but not this one critical one, then Sabbath has missed on you. Don't freak out. Just go again.