by Henry Miller
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
God embedded patterns of rest and renewal in His creation. God set the earth to spinning to give us day and night. He tilted its axis, giving us seasons. In the plant and animal kingdoms, we see cycles of growth and dormancy. For millenia, human beings have followed these patterns as well: waking with the dawn, going to sleep soon after sunset, sowing in the spring, and harvesting at the end of summer. God’s creation established the timeframes for our work.
But now we’re at this odd point in human history in which technology enables us to work nonstop. Literally. Nonstop. Because of electric lights it never has to be dark in our house. Until our supply chains were disrupted by COVID-19, we could get almost anything shipped to our door within twenty-four hours. We can communicate with people across the world instantaneously. We can ask and answer questions, give presentations, submit invoices, and have meetings at any time of day, any day of the week.
Coronavirus thrust me into telecommuting a few weeks ago. At first, it sounded great. I thought to myself, I don’t have to fight traffic. I can customize my office setup. I’m not going to have interruptions in my workspace. It’ll be great. But it turns out that Adam’s curse follows you even to your Zoom meetings because there are plenty of thorns to be found in telecommuting. Now you’re dealing with bad internet connections and less comfortable chairs because you never bought a super ergonomic office chair in your house because why would you? Now you find out that if you have to join Zoom meetings multiple times a day, suddenly the mesh back and ten-way lumbar support sounds pretty good.
So now, even though I am working from home, I feel like I’m actually resting less in some ways. I don’t have the transition time from home to work and work to home to decompress—to switch gears mentally. My kids don’t understand why I can’t play with them when I’m at home. I have to remind myself that No, I actually don’t have to check my email at 9pm in case “something important comes through.” So I’ve had to intentionally build breaks, pauses, and transition time into my day. They don’t come as naturally as they did when I was working at the office. My wife has had to remind me to take breaks and I have had to remind myself that I’m not a machine and I need to get up, stretch, go for a walk, tumble with my children, and look out the window—or in my case, the opening to the garage. It got a little bit crowded inside the house!
Throughout this pandemic, I’ve remembered what I heard in a sermon many years ago, that “if we don’t take a Sabbath, God will make us Sabbath.” I think in some ways this pandemic has been a forced Sabbath for me. It has reoriented my focus to my family. It has made me reexamine what is really important about church, and it has given me a chance to reevaluate how I use my time.
When something that is beyond your control disrupts your life, it forces you to acknowledge that you are not in ultimate control of your life. It brings you back to the reality that God is God and you are not. We cannot maintain a frenetic pace of life all day long, day and night, day after day. I’ve prayed a few times during this pandemic/quarantine/worldwide shutdown that Christians will take this opportunity to reevaluate how they do church, how they raise their families, how they work, and how they run their businesses. I encourage you to ask God to show you the places in your life where you have been trying to be in control—where you have been trying to be like God. You may find that now is the time to release those things to God, acknowledge that you’re not Him, and praise Him for being the God who is never too tired, whose resources are never exhausted, whose patience never wears thin, and whose schedule is never too full to work all things together for the good of those who love him.