Today, I admit, was a very pathetic attempt at a day off.
I don’t know what is wrong with me. Well, apart from drivenness, Type A personality and general hurrysickness of course! I believe passionately in honouring the principle of Sabbath rhythms in my life. But my practice is so far from my theology.
Today was meant to be a day of resting and not working. Yet even before breakfast I had done an hour of church work. Then I went into the office to pray with my colleague and ended up doing another twenty minutes of admin there. And then I sent church e-mails and texts intermittently from my phone throughout the afternoon and early evening. There were good bits of just chatting with a lovely friend too, but work had more place than rest.
I have to ask why I do this. And I suspect that I am not alone in these practices. Armed with the best of intentions, I have managed to sabotage my own day. And I really can’t blame anyone else. Not really. I mean, they might have been the ones who asked for my attention via e-mail or text but I could have set it aside. It could have waited. So what is it in the souls of some of us that leads us to believe that we will feel better when the work is done and not ‘hanging over’ us?
I have to call it sin, that predisposition of my soul. Sin that I need to be in control of my workload and not let it mount up. Sin that I cannot trust God for even one day to run the world without me. Sin that prioritises work over rest and deifies a productive life over non-productiveness.
You know, I don’t think it’s wrong to desire to be productive, to bear fruit. That’s written into the very DNA of the bearers of God’s image; it was there as part of the creation mandate which God gave to humans. But sin, it seems to me, is most often the corruption of the good things in life, the things which we celebrate and honour. And so passion for life and work is corrupted and becomes drivenness. The desire to be productive degenerates into a measuring of the value in people, relationships and work by what they produce. And as we saw in the Garden, the desire to know God becomes the desire to know what is for God alone to know.
You’d think that we’d be wise to it by now. You’d think that we’d have recognised that what has the most potential to be good and beautiful is the most vulnerable to spoiling. You’d think we’d have seen that our greatest beauty has a shadow side which can become our greatest sin.
I love that I am passionate about God and his kingdom. I love that I can make things happen. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. But today I have seen again how easily what is good can become sinful, as work has left its proper place of being in balance with patterns of rest. Passion and commitment have become drivenness and overwork. Work in the shadow of the Creator has become work in the shadow of the self.
You can see why Paul asked who would rescue him from this body of death, can’t you? Holiness just doesn’t seem to be simple; ugly death seems to rear its head even as we live! But praise God for Jesus. If ever I were in any doubt, I see again that I could never save myself! 🙂