Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?
We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds. (Elvis)
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. But they all alike began to make excuses.”1Luke 14 (Jesus)
My observation of the attitude about “keeping the Sabbath holy,” even in the Bible-belt of the South, is that it is largely unnoticed, unnecessary and unwelcome. As I have been teaching on this over these past four weeks, the reactions I have received, and the excuses, (some being my own) have at times bordered on ludicrous.
Many are suspicious of me. I encourage them to talk to God about it. It’s his commandment, not mine.
But, of course I can absolutely relate, because as I mentioned in our first Putting Green, when I began my own personal journey into the Sabbath 15 weeks ago, I felt like it was all doom and gloom, a restriction, not a refuge. I felt God was meddling, and prohibiting me from … my right to myself!
And I was suspicious of his motives.
God promises us at Isaiah 58: “… if you call the Sabbath a delight … you will feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob …”2 God promises a feast!
Jesus comes along and tells the story of another great feast, but those invited weren’t interested, “they all alike began to make excuses.”1
So here is a modern day “Parable of Suspicions and Excuses”
I want you to imagine someone in a position of influence in your life: it’s your boss if you have one – or it’s your most lucrative client, or the judge before whom you try cases, your business partner or whoever fits your particular scenario. Use your imagination.
He calls you into his office and says this:
“You are so valuable to me, and so important. I want you to have the best life possible. I want you to be at your best at all times – for yourself, as well as for your family and your God. Because you cannot be at your best for me, if you are not at your best in these other areas.
So, in order for you to both experience the best life possible, and to produce the best life possible, I am hereby commanding you to … take one day off a week. On that day I want you to relax, totally relax. I don’t want to see you out running errands to catch up. I don’t want to hear about you working on that day in order to get ahead.
I don’t expect to see you in the grocery store, or even eating out, getting gas in your car, or anything having to do with commerce. That will only distract you from my goal: a relaxed body and a clear mind for you.
You see my dear friend, I have learned that for me to get the best out of you, you must be experiencing the best for yourself. And when that happens, we both win.
This is important to me, because you are important to me, and I know how important this is for you. For you to produce at the highest level, and therefore to experience the highest level of the A+ Life that is truly Life, I want you rested and relaxed, and rejuvenated.
Anyone who is whole in their body-mind-spirit will be at their best, and will live at their best. This day off I’m commanding you to take will actually give you incredible power: increased energy, increased clarity, and don’t miss this: increased creativity.
If you obey my command and take this day off, I will not only pay you, and provide for you, but I will also bless you in ways you cannot even begin to see. You will receive bonuses in every aspect of life. Trust me; I will bless you, your marriage, and your entire family.
But you must abide by my command to rest, relax, rejuvenate, and reflect. On this day think about what’s truly important to you, what the A+ Life really looks like. Reflect on how much you are already blessed. Reflect on what I’ve already done for you throughout your life.
Remember, no work, no labor, no to-do lists to accomplish – simply put, no distractions and no anxiety. Just relax.
But you’re suspicious.
You’re absolutely shocked at what an obnoxious and inconsiderate boss you have! What a demanding, intruding man he is. How dare he meddle in your personal affairs like this? You have the right to do with your time what you want. You know what’s best for you, and a day off like this is just ridiculous.
You won’t stand for it!
And here are a host of other objections (some Sam’s) to this blatant meddling command from this obviously control-crazed person:
What, I can’t play golf that day?
You are a fanatic!
Do I have to tell my wife about this? She might not like it and blame me. She might think I’m a fanatic.
We have small children so this is impossible. I’ll have to wait until they grow up.
You are out of touch with reality. It’s like you’re living in archaic Old Testament times.
This is just totally unrealistic.
You expect me to just waste a day, accomplishing nothing?
This won’t be any fun.
But that will be the best day to: do some shopping or to catch up on all the things on my list, or even to get ahead for next week.
You expect me to do … nothing? Where’s the catch?
I’m not ready for this kind of commitment.
Am I going to end up having to stand on the street corner and preach to everyone about this?
Who are you to try to make me relax, and who are you to try to command me to have joy and peace?
No day should be any different than the others. I should be living in balance each day. (I’m not, but that’s irrelevant.)
But I get fulfillment out of working, that’s how I find my identity and self-worth.
I don’t know how to relax and take a day off.
Nap? I’ve never been able to take naps. (Perhaps indicative of a deeper issue?)
Whoa, whoa, whoa, we live in an age of grace, so I’m forgiven if I ignore you.
And my personal favorite: I’ll need a complete list of what I can do and what I cannot do before I decide to accept your offer.
And God said: “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”1
The Sabbath is a banquet. Taste it.