A really wise guy once said, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Then he goes on to talk about a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to embrace and a time to practice social distancing. To be honest, I have to admit that I had never heard of social distancing until about a week ago. These are weird times, but I know that God’s got this. It’s so easy to see that this is a time for rest, a time for family, a time to slow down, and a time to trust the LORD at a deeper level. As Joshua and his sidekicks told the children of Israel that one time, “Hey, we have not passed this way before.” True then, true now.
So, what now – especially during this time while we are logging in unprecedented hours in our homes? The funniest tweet I saw this weekend was from a fellow in Florida who revealed, “Day 2 without sports: Found a young lady sitting on my couch yesterday. Apparently, she’s my wife. She seems nice.” So here we are, sitting on the couch, with some serious time on our hands – maybe looking at family members who are in the same boat. To lift an ‘80’s rock lyric, “I’ve got nothing to do and all day to do it.” So, what to do? Let’s take a look at the word sabbath.
Sabbath always comes to mind when we think of the creation story where on the seventh day God rested (shabath). Eugene Peterson says it’s more than just a day off. It means quit, stop, take a break, cool it. He goes on to say that Sabbath-keeping should mean “uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing.” Well, have we ever found ourselves more distanced from the frenzy of our activities?
We are constantly complaining about how quickly time flies. Well, have you noticed how slow time has passed these last few days? See this as a gift – an opportunity to live a little deeper. Remember, this is a very strange trip we’re all on right now. So, let’s look at how we might take advantage of this sabbath time:
- Limit screen time. If during this unique time, we just go off to our rooms and stare at our screens, what a missed opportunity. That is not sabbath. That is just turning your brain into mush.
- It’s an age-old discipline, but have some designated quiet time for reading scripture, journaling, and praying. This could be the time when you finally plug that into your busy life.
- Speaking of reading, isn’t about time you read more books? If you’re already a reader, you don’t need any encouragement. If not, here’s your opportunity. It’s been said that a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. One who never reads lives only one.
- Work on your Spanish, pick up that guitar you’ve been meaning to learn how to play, facetime with a grandparent, do something crafty, sit outside and just be quiet. Just use your imagination.
- This is a big one – take a walk (alone or with those you live with). It’s guaranteed you won’t bump into anyone. Walking can truly be one of the most worshipful things you can do. Walk and observe and listen. You’ll hear God speak.
- And last but not least, limit screen time. In fact, put those phones away and drag out those board games. The family that prays and plays together…
This is a mega opportunity to learn to turn loneliness into solitude. Embrace the solitude. God will respond – and you’ll experience good sabbath. By the way, it’s kind of cool that Joshua (in his third chapter) encouraged his people who were going where they had never been before with these words, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders.” No doubt, we will find that to be true in this new story we find ourselves.