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Hurried Sandwiches and Little Sabbaths

Hurried Sandwiches and Little Sabbaths
 

Hurrying Through Lunch

As I grabbed a quick bite for lunch the other day, I caught myself practically inhaling a sandwich. I barely took a moment to chew before taking another bite. It was a weird feeling, and in the moment, it struck me as not only odd, but frankly ridiculous. I had no reason to be eating that fast; no pressing meeting to get to, no urgent deadline to meet, but there I was rushing through this meal as if the building was on fire.

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I remember staring at the sandwich and asking myself, “What’s your rush, Aaron?”

In that moment, I understood the rush. I had been rushing all morning, jumping from one task to the next, responding to emails, double-checking details, following up on “to do” list items. The morning had been a productive blur the pace of which was now infecting my lunch “break”.

Do you ever catch yourself in moments like that? Rushing without any explanation except that it’s become your normal pace? Hurrying through moments of rest as if it was the only pace you knew?

I relayed this embarrassingly little moment with a close friend who reminded me of the importance of Sabbath within the midst of our days. I remember questioning the idea of “Sabbath” in each day. Wasn’t that something to do once a week? It seemed ill-fitting to think of it on a daily basis, and yet he was making an important point:

We need intentional moments of withdraw every day in order to be fully present with God and with ourselves.

Little Sabbaths

The idea of Sabbath is to intentionally break from our work, to not only rest but to enjoy God and His creation. It’s a practice that He’s commanded and modeled for us. It follows a natural rhythm every week, and like our heartbeat or our breathing, begins to shape our life.

But Sabbath comes once a week, and if I’m honest, even if I do Sabbath well, by the middle of the next week, I can get sucked right back into my hurried, distracted, anxiety-ridden habits.  An unexpected task, an impromptu meeting, a ministry fire flare-up and we’re right back to where we started. It’s embarrassing how easily distracted and out-of-rhythm we can get.

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What we need are intentional moments every day to catch our breath, slow our pace, and regain our perspective.  We need little Sabbaths to teach us to be fully present with God, intentional moments in our day that remind us of what really matters in the eternal scheme of things.

We should order our time by sacred rhythms of prayer more than by our wristwatches and smartphones.

Creating Space for Yourself and Others

Let me invite you to think about how you’re spending your time today. Are you running a pace that lends you to rushing through meals, blowing past people, and missing divinely ordained burning bushes? Let me suggest that carving out an intentional 10-15 minutes of rest today might make your more present, fully human, and yes, perhaps even more productive (though not perhaps in the ways you’d like).

How do these little Sabbaths take shape? What does it look like to start incorporating some form of this practice in the midst of an already too-busy schedule? Here are a few thoughts to get you started.

1. Give yourself permission to “Waste time with God.”

In the midst of your busyness, an intentional stopping to rest can feel counter-intuitive, counter-productive. It’s important that we release ourselves from any pressure in the moment.

2. Give others permission to do the same.

If you work in a team environment, you may inadvertently be reinforcing the “too busy to stop” mentality with casual comments, insensitive jokes, or simply by the model you reinforce with your own behavior. If this is something that truly matters, it should matter for everyone on your team.

3. Don’t try to microwave true rest.

I find it nearly impossible to be fully present in a ten minute window of rest. I’m constantly peeking at the clock to see how much more rest I have left, and as the time nears its end, I find myself working hard to cram in more restfulness. It seems just a little ridiculous. Instead something I’ve found helpful is to set an alarm on your smartphone and then leave it on the other side of the room. In some ways, we can’t fully enter rest without releasing our control of time. In the end, those ten minutes, free from the constant time checking, can be incredibly fulfilling.

4. Take some deep, measured breaths.

When we’re busy, we tend to be shallow breathers, inadvertently starving ourselves of energy. On the other hand, it’s amazing what a few deep breathes can do for us; oxygenating the blood, reinvigorating the body. It helps up become more present in the moment and more present with ourselves.

5. When necessary, use words.

For people who spend much of their job working with words, it can be easy for us to jump into another subtle form of productiveness in the midst of our rest. We can cheat that good Sabbath-intention by jumping right into a prayer with empty words or journaling about our next message or replaying a conversation from earlier in the day. For us, silence may be the most difficult and necessary component of true rest. Consider making your little Sabbath a words-free zone.

6. Consider exploring fixed-hour prayer.

In reality, what we’re dancing around with this concept of a “little Sabbath” is the ancient spiritual discipline of fixed-hour prayer. Regular divine interruptions to our busy days for the purpose of prayer and presence. The basic ideas is to stop whatever you’re doing at certain set hours throughout the day for the purpose of prayer, worship, and the reminder that we are merely creatures serving Our Loving Creator. If you’re interested, there are many great free resources that can help you explore this practice:

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Aaron Brown
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project's editor and web guy.
  1. Scott Harrison09-03-13

    Aaron, finding a healthy rhythm is sometimes a battle for sure and being intentional about time and rest is so important. Your thoughts on creating space were great, I love the idea of putting my iPhone on the other side of the room. Thanks again, Aaron