And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.--Genesis 1:31
Sabbath rest is about letting the past be the past and the future be the future. Leaving space for rest takes practice and preparation so let’s do a sequel to yesterday's post. Today, let's talk about another aspect of rest: celebration.
Rest does not come naturally to us. God had to show us how to do it. I find it fascinating that at the end of each day God rested and then on the seventh day he took an entire day to rest. After every creative activity (and I imagine each day of creation was a frenzied day--there is a lot to get done after all) God stopped, looked back at what he had done and let out a celebratory, "It is good!"
When God rested, he celebrated what he had made.
We need to make room for celebration. Celebration isn't productive. It's actually pretty consumptive. It requires time , money, materials, and energy to throw a party. There is a lot of prep work that goes into it but if we don't take the time to celebrate, if we only work to work some more, we run the risk of loosing our humanity. We are not production machines. This world is a playground for us to enjoy, not for us to produce and consume so we can produce some more.
Ask yourself…"Why do I feel I must always be producing, proving my worth, earning my keep?" The Lord of the Sabbath says, "Stop. You don't need to always be producing. It is not your job. You are not a machine. Let me show you true humanity…"
The story of God providing manna in the wilderness is a great example of God teaching his people how to celebrate that he is their provider. They needed the wilderness to detox from slavery in Egypt where they were constantly producing. So for forty years he provide their food and it was only good for one day except on the day before the Sabbath where they would gather enough for two days. I have numerous manna-type stories where God forces me to recognize and experience his provision by putting me through production detox.
For example, there have been a couple of times in our marriage that Lori and I have had to go on food stamps because we couldn't make ends meet. It was a hard lesson to learn about my own pride/shame, especially as a husband and father. (I also learned a lot about how the system makes it hard to work your way off of food stamps.) I felt like a failure. I felt like "less of a man" because I needed to rely on the government to put food on my table. Here is how the conversation went with Jesus…
"I'm a failure as a husband and a father."
"Why is that?"
"Because I should be able to take care of my wife and children."
"Well, I don't know."
"Well, it wasn't me. So let me tell you what's going on. You are embarrassed because food stamps is like a light that has revealed the idolatrous fantasy world that you have been living in; the fantasy that says you are the provider of your family, the fantasy that says you are amazing and successful at everything you do, the one that says you are so good you don't have to depend on anyone--not even me. There is only one person who can say they are the provider of your family. That's me! So, relax. I am the one who will take care of your family and I'm going to do it in such a way as to reveal idolatries in your heart so as to show you how much I love you, my silly child! I love you! Now, go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of food and throw a party. Celebrate with friends and family that I am your provider."
So I did.
What generosity there must be in a God who would prefer to do all the work. "No, let me do it. I want you to celebrate that you are no longer a slave to productivity, pride and shame."
What keeps you from stopping to celebrate? Is it pride, shame, self-sufficiency, self-dependence?
Tomorrow is Sunday. Take time to celebrate. Trust God with those things you decide not to do. Then look back. What can you celebrate from last week? Who can you celebrate it with? Don't be cynical! If it's a small victory, that's okay. A victory is a victory! Sabbath invites you into the rhythms of the Divine, the glory of true humanity, to stop and celebrate that you are a part of the creative energies of this world. So look back with Jesus and say, "It is very good."
I confess I know how to work but I don't know how to party. Teach me how to life within the rhythms of work and play. Remind me that you are the Lord of rest and that since everything for life is taken care of all I need to do is enjoy it. Amen.