#158: Day of Rest

“Do not kill” is, for most of us, a no-brainer. Ditto for “do not steal”, “do not commit adultery” and we all know that “do not covet” is a good theory. This entry is about the forgotten commandment of the famous ten.

Those of you who are Christian will be pretty familiar with the old testament of the Bible (ie, until Jesus arrives). For those who aren’t, this is pretty much how it goes:

1. God creates world, warns people not to do such-and-such or there’ll be trouble.

2. People do such-and-such. There’s trouble.

3. God warns people not to do such-and-such or there’ll be trouble.

*repeat 2 and 3*

One of the interesting things about the old testament is that one of the ten commandments is the sabbath – a day off every week. And that’s the one that people simply can’t handle – over and over and over. God yells at them for that a LOT.

Once the new testament starts, the reasonably simple sabbath instructions (don’t work, worship God instead) are so itemised that Jesus’ disciples get in trouble with the religious authorities for rolling wheat grains in their hands for a snack as they walk through a field. Why? Because rolling grain between their hands is considered work. Jesus rolls his eyes (I assume) and says, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”

So since it’s for our benefit, why don’t we do it? Because stopping work for one day is HARD. I’ve been having regular sabbaths for almost ten years. Since it’s for my benefit, I make up the rules the day before – but “no work” features every time.

Yesterday I didn’t do dishes. I didn’t put things away or clean things up. I didn’t write (the blog entry was one I’d prepared earlier). I didn’t exercise. Instead I read a book, ate chocolate, watched TV, daydreamed (which in my case is indistinguishable from prayer) and defrosted leftovers for dinner instead of cooking. Sabbaths are usually really fun until about 9pm, when I run out of fun things to do and start wishing I could do work. I do find that the next day is usually brilliant – things in my head and in my life just work better. 

Play along at home: It’s harder than it looks – if you go with the schedule of the ancient Jews, you make the day before your sabbath “preparation day”. It’s a GOOD idea.

There’s a day off in it for you.

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