I once read an article that changed the way I think about time. The gist of the article went something like this: Watch your “nos” and your “yeses” will take care of themselves; every time we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to something else. This statement has had a profound impact on me. I was living a life so full of busyness that I never had time to do the things that brought me true rest or pleasure; reading my bible, praying, spending quality time with my family, and importantly – truly resting and trusting God’s provision. I had never stopped to realize the consequence of saying “yes” to everything. By always saying yes to everything that others wanted from me I was also saying no to other important things, and without realizing it I was saying “no” to God.
Mark 2 ends with a story of Jesus’ disciples picking heads of grain on the Sabbath, and Jesus’ response to the Pharisees on doing what is lawful on the Sabbath. Sometimes I think we read the story as a justification to ignore Sabbath rest; to see it as a day of active worship, but not as a day of rest. We are tempted to put sabbath rest in the category of the ceremonial laws, believing that we are liberated from this requirement through Christ. But Jesus told us that “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” because God knows our need for rest. And while Jesus warns us of the dangers of being too legalistic about Sabbath rest, he does not tell us to abandon it. Rest points back to the seventh day of creation, when God rested from His work so He could enjoy what He had made. Rest in this sense is an act of ‘intentional inactivity’; not a break from the toils of work – creating the universe caused God no weariness – but rather following God’s example of enjoying His creation, and providing us an opportunity to appreciate the work of His hands.
In the Westminster Catechism of Faith, the answer to the first question of “What is the chief end of Man?” is that we are to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. I encourage us during this Lenten season to meditate on what it means to enjoy God; to be filled with, as the psalmist puts it, “…fullness of joy in your presence; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore”. When we think about giving our time to God, let us remember that he doesn’t love us for our doing – he loves us because he created us. Let us consider ways that we can create space for Him to use us as He will – trusting in him enough that we resist the traps of filling our life with obligations and busyness. Whatever making space means for you, I urge you to use this as a day to worship the Lord by resting in Him; He will provide for you. Be mindful and intentional about what you say “no” to, and remember that every time we say “no”, we are saying “yes” to something else. By choosing busyness, we run the risk of missing the Lord’s rest. Let us choose instead to give control of our time to God, resting on His promises and enjoying the fullness of joy that comes with His presence.