I just returned from a quick educational trip to England. I’ve made this trek six times now, for varying lengths of stay, so it holds a lot of familiarity for me. Even so there are so many differences between life in England and life in the American Midwest.
One of the big differences I’ve noticed, at least in the academic circles where I find myself, is that people in England don’t generally seem to be in much of a hurry.
Sure, there are deadlines to meet and places to be, but when I observe the people around me, there just doesn’t seem to be the same frantic rushing about that I find everywhere around me at home.
One of the great things about visiting another country is how I am immediately confronted with the things I take for granted. Like ice cubes or air conditioning. It makes me more thankful for these things.
But visiting other places also makes me more aware of what is missing at home. Like long lunches, regular conversations with friends and family, and a more minimalist lifestyle.
Today, I decided to take time for a sit-down lunch. Something I rarely do these days, but which is a common occurrence when I am in England. I went into a restaurant. I sat down, unhurried. I ate my food. I reflected on the events of the morning. And I just . . . was.
It was wonderful.
And then I was reminded once again that everything in life is spiritual; even the pace with which we live it.
Rest is a Spiritual Necessity
The Bible has quite a bit to say about Sabbath, which is the day of rest commanded for God’s people. Though it was often misunderstood, the intention behind Sabbath was to help humanity maintain perspective and balance. If even the God of the universe rests, how much more do we need to rest?
Jesus reminded his followers, who like us were prone to legalism, that Sabbath was made for humanity, not the other way around. It is a blessing from God, a gift that he wants us to open.
But in a world where so few of us take time for a full day of rest, I wonder if we might do well to not only recover the importance of this Biblical command, but also to begin cultivating a Sabbath-mindedness through each and every day.
Our frenetic activity so easily causes us to lose spiritual focus. It is as though the whole spiritual landscape around us blurs as it whips past our heads. No wonder it is so difficult for people to remain connected to God in our society.
When this blurring of spiritual reality happens, we must forcefully apply the brakes and intentionally retake the leisurely pace of one who walks in the garden with God. This is the only way to bring spiritual reality back into focus.
Slowing down is not laziness, but rather recalibration. Think of it like following a GPS in your car. If you are moving too quickly, you can easily miss your turn. And if you don’t slow down long enough for the GPS to recalculate, you could easily wind up lost.
In the same way, having a Sabbath mindset means slowing down enough to give our spiritual GPS time to recalculate when we have missed a turn, so that we don’t wind up lost in the weeds on the side of the road.
Slowing Down is a Choice
The last few months have marked the busiest season of my life, and I know that I need to slow down. I have become convinced that I am not alone in this. As I listen to the people around me I hear stories of hurried lives, which are moving at such a quick pace that spiritual realities have become a blur, and people are losing touch with the God who loves them.
Like everything else in our lives, we must chose how we will live. We can choose to follow the wisdom of our world, which say that busy-ness leads to success. Or we can choose to follow the Biblical wisdom, which says that true success in life comes when we slow down, observe the spiritual reality all around us, and take the time to recalibrate. Ensuring that we remain on the path that leads to eternal life.
Do you feel hurried in life? Maybe it’s time to hit the brakes and slow down. Maybe it’s time to reclaim Sabbath as a practice and a Sabbath mindset as a new way of being.