A Message for You

Give yourself a little rest 

by REV. HELEN H. COLLINS
North Kent Presbyterian Church

Most mornings as I get ready to go out, I listen to the national news programs. One of the stories recently included mention of the fact that our President is going on vacation. Some are critical of him for doing that because, of course, we have a lot of national problems; lots of work to be done. One commentator mentioned that the President will still be doing some work, and of course will be available if something drastic happens. My thought was I’m glad he’s taking vacation. The pressures of his job are huge. The responsibilities are incalculable. Democrat, Republican or Independent, everyone needs to rest, renew and refresh to do their best.

There is a story told of a wagon train on its way from St. Louis to Oregon. Its members were devout Christians, so the whole group observed the habit of stopping for the Sabbath day. Winter was approaching quickly, however, and some among the group began to panic in fear that they wouldn’t reach their destination before the heavy snows. Consequently, several members proposed to the rest of the group that they should quit their practice of stopping for the Sabbath and continue driving onward seven days a week.

This proposal triggered a lot of contention in the community, so finally it was suggested that the wagon train should split into two groups: those who wanted to observe the Sabbath and those who preferred to travel on that day. The proposal was accepted, and both groups set out and traveled together until the next Sabbath day, when one group continued while the other remained at rest.

Guess which group got to Oregon first? You’re right. The ones who kept the Sabbath reached their destination first. Both the people and the horses were so rested by their Sabbath observance that they could travel much more vigorously and effectively the other six days of the week.

My congregation recently supported me in taking a three-month Sabbatical—a time of refreshment and renewal that allowed me to spend time with family and reflect on our ministry together. For their encouragement  and care, I thank and commend them. I returned to work the first of this month, reenergized.

What about you? You may not be able to take an extended period of time away from work, but do you take at least one day a week for a change of pace, a chance to rest and catch your breath, to reflect on your life goals, build relationships with family and friends—and God?

My favorite theology professor liked to remind us that God worked six days and on the seventh He rested. Then he would say, “How arrogant of us Earthlings to think we don’t need to rest!”

Sabbath-keeping isn’t about God trying to control our lives. It’s a prescription for healthy, happy and successful living—a prescription given because God loves us and wants the best for us. Whether it’s Sunday or some other day of the week, I highly commend to you God’s great idea: Sabbath rest.

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