Let’s throw it back to senior year of high school:
I had just gotten home from the first day of high school swimming championships. It was after midnight and I was exhausted. I had finished an AP test that morning, and had another one in 8 hours. I was starving, caked in chlorine, and ready to hibernate. Wanting to get to bed ASAP, I did what any other rational person would do: grabbed 2 frozen Eggo waffles and jumped in the shower with them (no no I didn’t let them get wet, what kind of cave person do you think I am??)
3 minutes later I was in bed. That, my friends, was what I considered the peak of efficient behavior, and I was crushing it.
Efficiency, that’s the name of the game. At least it’s the name of my game.
Maximization, prioritization, productivity-ization
(because all good things come in 3 right??)
Efficiency is a de facto rule of the modern world, especially in the fast-paced and ever-evolving Bay Area we find ourselves at the heart of. We have learned to manage our time and energy, to strategically plan each day, and to expend the right amount of energy during each activity to make sure we have enough to get through what’s coming next.
But at what point do we reach maximum efficiency? Is there even a normative standard for it? Or have we all been caught up in chasing a moving finish line, always thinking that we can tweak just one more thing and we will stop being so exhausted/frazzled/burnt-out/stuck? In other words, when can we rest?
Now efficiency isn’t an inherently bad thing. To some degree I think that God actually calls us to be efficient with our time in the sense that we work hard at the tasks He has set before us and make the most of our working time. Rather, it is when we apply the concept of efficiency to our relationship with God that it becomes a negative concept.
The way of the world to live life efficiently is just that, a law of the world, a law of the flesh. However, our redemption in Christ calls us out of this flesh-driven life and into a Christ-driven life.
‘I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ (Galatians 2:19-20)
‘Do not be conformed to this age,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God’ (Romans 12:2)
As we engage in the process of being transformed into a disciple of Christ, we must realize that there is no room for efficiency in our relationship with God. We can’t become more time-efficient in our prayer, or our worship, or in studying His word. And one of my biggest realizations this semester is that I cannot become more efficient in my rest.
God calls us to rest in Him through the Sabbath. And he does not just call us to rest, he models this idea for us:
‘By the seventh day, God completed His work that He had done,
and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.’ (Genesis 2:2)
He also commanded His chosen people engage in Sabbath practices:
‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’ (Exodus 20:8)
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word which means ‘rest’. Sabbath is a day set aside for rest and for worship. God intended the Sabbath to break the routine of our daily activities which busy our minds, allowing us to direct our thoughts and actions towards Him. The extra space created in our minds with the absence of daily tasks allows us to contemplate the character of God, to pray for His kingdom come, to be enriched by the Spirit which dwells within us. Not only is God pleased when we rest in Him, but we ourselves are revived.
‘Then He told them,
“The Sabbath was made for man and not the man for the Sabbath.”’ (Mark 2:27)
We are made to rest well. Guys, this is INSANE. I mean come on, we serve a God who wants us to rest in Him, to not live in perpetual hurry and worry. How loving is that??
One of the reasons I have struggled with Sabbath so much is because it combats my need for efficiency. I haven’t yet figured out a way to streamline the Sabbath (spoiler: there isn’t a way to do that). There is no way to rush rest and there’s no way to make my relationship with God more efficient. I’ve been substituting efficiency in rest, when instead the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ abounds.
The Sabbath calls us to rest in the sufficiency of God, to reflect upon His grandeur and infiniteness, and to release to Him the anxieties of this world. The Sabbath also serves as a reminder of how futile it is to be selfish with our time in the first place. Sabbath is a chance to step away from the limited time we have in this world and to look towards the infinite life that awaits us in Heaven. Friends, we must engage in Sabbath and in resting in the sufficiency of Christ. It is time to leave efficiency out of our relationship with God.
Long story short, practicing Sabbath looks different on the individual level but it remains rooted in finding sufficiency in Christ.